The University of North Carolina at Pembroke welcomed approximately 1,500 new students to its campus at Convocation on August 30.
Chancellor Allen C. Meadors offered words of welcome and advice to 960 freshmen, 520 transfer students and 40 international students at ceremonies in the Givens Performing Arts Center.
“We’re here to enable you to be successful,” Chancellor Meadors said. “It is a team effort and only you can step forward and take charge of your future.”
Motivational speaker, author and attorney Francine Ward offered “lessons learned along the way.”
“Probably a lot of you, as freshman, are experiencing fear,” Ward said. “I came to the realization a long time ago that you will not die from your own fear.”
Ward, who was homeless and drug addicted before turning her life around to earn a law degree, said she learned the hard way to appreciate education. She said it is worth the effort.
“Anything worth working for is worth having,” Ward said. “I was dealt a rotten hand in life, and I held on to that notion for a long time.”
Ward said she did not allow her challenges to rule her life, or “my scars to walk into a room before me.”
“I had my own personal secrets, and you have yours, but in the next four years you can create the life you want,” she said. “Life is not a destination; it is a journey.”
The keynote speaker advised students to give back in return for what is given to them.
“I was always asking people to give to me,” Ward said. “There is always something to share with the people coming up behind you.”
“Think about the next four years, and I invite you to think about what you can get and what you can give,” she said. “Make this the most unbelievable journey in your life.”
Offering words of welcome were new University Board of Trustees Chair Sybil Bullard, new Student Government President Marvin Jacobs and new Chair of the Faculty Senate Dr. David Ziegler.
“Today we begin fresh with new goals,” Bullard said. “Make the most of your education, and to the Class of 2010, I offer an invitation to your graduation in four short years.
Convocation is the official opening of the school year. Approximately 1,200 attended the ceremony.