Convocation Opens 164th Academic Year at Averett with Message on Choices

Posted on August 22nd, 2022 by Matt Bell

Students, faculty, staff and alumni gathered in Averett University’s Pritchett Auditorium in the Violet T. Frith Fine Arts Center on Tuesday, Aug. 16, for the annual Opening Convocation for the 164th academic year.

Averett University President Dr. Tiffany M. Franks in her address said while there are many choices made in life – some good and others bad – four choices could greatly benefit students during their time at Averett.

“Choose to invest your time, not spend it… Choose the people you will associate with the most… Choose your destination up front… Choose to be the driver, not the passenger,” Dr. Franks said.

Comparing time to money, Franks told those in attendance and via livestream to invest their time like money.

Putting an emphasis on the choice, Franks said it is important who students spend time with.

“You will become the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Michelle Obama once said, ‘Choose the people who will lift you up.’ I hope you find the people who are ahead of you. Choose people who will nourish you,” Franks said.

Highlighting the importance of having a target, Franks told students to stay focused as the year progresses instead of taking things one day at a time. She quoted Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by saying “to look at the step to be taken, not the entire staircase.”

Franks’ last point stressed to students that they are in control of their educational experience, and no one else.

“This is your education. It’s no one else’s. What you’re learning is up to you. Choose your own learning and your own growth,” Franks said.

Vice President of Student Engagement Dr. Venita Mitchell offered a welcome from Student Life and told students that the moment they are in matters.

“Convocation is a group of people gathered to answer a summons. Students, take this summons seriously, you are challenged to invest energy in every experience you have here…think hard, study hard, practice hard, when you fail pick yourself up and try again, and again… Welcome to this moment,” Mitchell said.

Student Government Association Vice President and New Jersey native Morgan Dearing offered the student body a welcome from the upper class. A senior majoring in elementary education, Dearing also plays women’s lacrosse and is a Connection Leader on campus.

Dearing told students that she used to be an introvert before coming to Averett.

“If you ask my teammates or those who know me at Averett, they would say differently. I definitely would not have imagined having the opportunity to speak before students, faculty and staff,” Dearing said. “I’ve created so many memories I will remember for the rest of my life. Freshmen, these next four years will go by fast, so cherish them. Be the best person you can be.”

Director of Alumni and Constituent Relations Joel Nester ’00, ’12 introduced himself in his new role, having previously served over 20 years in Admissions.

“I’ve recruited over 4,000 alumni to Averett University. Now, it’s my job to reconnect with them and get them reunited with the University,” Nester said.

Representing Averett’s alumni by decade at Convocation was:

1950s – Barbara Collie ’50
1960s – Judy Foster ’63
1970s – Martha Williams ’74
1980s – Ellen Beville ’87
1990s – Jennifer Williams ’90
2000s – Jackson Weller ’01
2010s – Zac LaBua ’19
2020s – Lydie Kodio ’22

Interim Director of Admissions Matt Mann ’08 shared census data from the current student body with those at Convocation.

There are 325 brand new students at Averett including 264 freshmen, 61 transfers and seven returning students. Another 81 students are presidential scholars, who stood and were recognized with applause. The average grade point average in the incoming class is 3.25.

The top areas of study include health sciences, business, aviation, nursing and biology.

International countries represented at Averett include Argentina, Bahamas, Finland, Germany, Ghana, India, Netherlands, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom and Venezuela.

Domestic students hail from Alaska, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia.

Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs Ginger Henderson introduced Dr. Marc Muneal, professor of English, to those in attendance as the 2021-2022 faculty member of the year. Dr. Muneal also carried the mace during the processional and recessional. Staff Council President Ashley Bowman ’18 was also recognized.

Mathematics Professor Dr. Gary Tucker ’85 offered an invocation and benediction during Convocation, and also sung the Alma Mater. Professor of Music and Department Chair Dr. Anne Lewis played the piano for the processional and recessional.

A meal followed Convocation in the Student Center, and the Center for Community Engagement and Career Competitiveness held the annual Business Fest in Carrington Gym with over 40 local businesses participating and over 300 students in attendance.

Watch Convocation by clicking here.