President Bradley W. Bateman delivered a message about the value of a college education Wednesday as Randolph College officially marked the beginning of the 2019-20 academic year with Convocation.
The ceremony began with the traditional procession of faculty and seniors from Main Hall into Smith Hall Theatre. Also following tradition, seniors wore funny hats and graduation robes decorated with buttons as they exchanged cheers and songs with the sophomores.
During the event, Carl Girelli, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the College, presented several awards to students and faculty.
Hope Banton ’21 earned the Phi Beta Kappa Book Award, which is given annually to the junior who has attained the highest grade point average in her or his class.
Art history professor Andrea Campbell received the Katherine Graves Davidson Award, which recognizes a member of the full-time faculty who has been outstanding in bringing distinction to the College.
Holly Tatum, psychology professor and the Mary Sabel Girard Chair in Psychology, was awarded the Katherine Graves Davidson Scholarship Award, which recognizes the importance of faculty research, scholarship, and achievement.
Biology professor Amanda Rumore was presented the Gillie A. Larew Distinguished Teaching Award, which is given to a member of the faculty who has demonstrated excellence as a classroom teacher.
In his address, Da’Quan Saunders-McNear ’20, president of Student Government, gave words of advice and encouragement to students at each stage of their Randolph education. Saunders-McNear assured first-years that while the journey through college might not be easy, they won’t have to go it alone.
“I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it wasn’t for the love and support from various members of the audience and many others at this institution,” Saunders-McNear said. “The potential that you all have at this moment is limitless and you can be anything you want to be, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t going to have to work for it. So, enter every room you walk into with the goal to change the world, and with enough love in your heart to do so.”
Saunders-McNear advised sophomores to take more risks and step out of their comfort zones, and reminded juniors to take a step back from stress and enjoy the world around them. Finally, he urged seniors to embrace the unknown.
“I believe that it is extremely humbling to admit that you don’t have the answers to every problem that comes your way, and why would you want to?” Saunders-McNear said. “You may not know where life is going to take you, but take comfort in that, because it is that uncertainty that is going to help you blossom into the person you are meant to be.”
President Bateman also discussed the ways that college and the experiences students have at Randolph help them find their passions and purpose. Bateman said that while it is more difficult to achieve success in today’s workforce than when he earned his degrees, Randolph provides the support needed to explore a variety of career options and to excel in any field.
“This is a remarkably supportive community,” Bateman said. “We have tremendous resources to help you excel in the classroom and to help you think about where your education might lead you in the world.”
Bateman also encouraged students to develop and maintain a sense of intellectual curiosity.
“Ask yourself, ‘What do I want to know more about? What interests me?’” Bateman said. “Ask yourself what you want to preserve or change in the world. Above all, I suggest you cultivate your own curiosity. If you are curious, you will always have an interesting, meaningful, and worthwhile life.”