UNC Pembroke Convocation speaker Marlon Smith entertained and cajoled an audience of nearly 1,000 with a healthy dose of motivation.
Convocation, which is the traditional opening ceremony for the new academic year, was held Wednesday, September 3 in Givens Performing Arts Center.
Chancellor Allen C. Meadors welcomed a record class of freshmen (approximately 800), a record number of transfers (360) and record total enrollment (4700). In just four years, enrollment has grown 53 percent, Chancellor Meadors said, and international student enrollment increased from 18 to 60 and out of state students from 60 to 200.
Many freshmen and transfer students were in attendance, and Smith spoke directly to UNCP's newest students.
"There is greatness in this room," Smith said. "The reason that some people succeed and others fail is because some people take action, step out of their comfort zone and reject the fear of failure."
"You will never achieve greatness unless you move through fear," said the internationally renowned motivational speaker. "I decided that as long as I'm not going to die, I am going for it."
Smith, who has written several books and founded Success by Choice, Inc., told the audience of his own college experience as a floundering electrical engineering student at the University of Virginia. He said focus, time management, faculty advisement and a little help from friends were the keys to achieving good grades.
"But grades don't tell how smart you are," Smith said. "Grades tell how disciplined you are."
Smith also recommended students get involved in university life and community service, all part of getting out of their comfort zone.
Other speakers echoed Smith's advice. Faculty Chair Tom Dooling advised students "be prepared for the road ahead." Student Government President Nadean Hafner urged students to "get involved in university life."
Board of Trustees Chair Gervais Oxendine offered an invitation to the freshman class.
"You are cordially invited to your Commencement in May, 2007," he said.