Black and gold was in full effect Tuesday as students, faculty and staff flooded the Fredrick C. Hobdy Assembly Center, which was soon turned into classroom during the Honors Day Convocation.
Educator Dr. Steve Perry served as the keynote speaker, holding no punches and reminding hundreds of honorees on what it is that the ceremony is truly celebrating, while urging them to continue to do what they’ve been doing and understand their “journey.”
“Celebrating someone for doing something that they should already be doing has a way of undermining what real success really looks like,” he said. “We’re celebrating your families for the contributions that they’ve made to your lives.”
“One of the differences between a life well lived, and a life that is not well lived, is not always the gifts you are given when you come into life, but the decisions you make while you’re living it,” said Perry, who flew 13 hours to arrive in Grambling at 4:30 Tuesday morning.
Perry is the founder and principal of Capital Preparatory Magnet School in Hartford, Conn. He also is an education contributor for CNN and MSNBC, as well as an author. From his efforts as host of TV One’s Save My Son, Perry used those experiences to emphasize the importance of utilizing a college education while reflecting on the impoverished neighborhoods he’s visited, which he called an “uncomfortable opportunity.”
“It is rare that I get an opportunity to be in a place like this,” said Perry. “I need you to know that you have an obligation to take the information that is been given to you every day and do something with it.”
Perry’s words couldn’t have come at a better time for Seth Davis, a graduating senior majoring in marketing, who has increased his grade point average from a 1.95 to a 3.0, allowing him to make the Honor Roll.
“Dr. Steve Perry was an extraordinary speaker,” said the 22-year-old Davis, a native of Oklahoma City. “We must humble ourselves above all else and stay grounded in the possibility of hope.”
However, Perry didn’t stop there. He focused in on the next generation, which he explained is worse than ever before, sending a challenging message to attendees.
“In a time when the rest of the world is in a high tech Information Age, we in the Black community are in the Stone Age. We are so far behind in our skill set, we are so far behind in our abilities that he may seem we may never catch up,” said Perry.
“You are not just the future, you are the now.”
Davis couldn’t have agreed more with Perry, as his favorite segment of the speech was the focus of educational lineage.
“He spoke on how the ball doesn’t stop here and we must bring someone else up to the same academic level,” said Davis.
Davis and 1, 200 others were honored for achieving a GPA of 3.0 or higher for the fall 2012 semester. Academic departments also honored some students with a plaque and some received financial awards.
“It’s important that we recognize those students who go above and beyond the minimum requirements, those who excel and those who take full advantage of what our university has to offer,” said Dr. Frank G. Pogue, president of Grambling State University. “Giving them recognition, and respect, is one of the most important things we can and must do,” he said of the honorees.
The Honors Day ceremony is a part of a two-day event. Students were not only treated to awards, but also dined on barbecue Wednesday at the president’s house.
“It feels great to be honored because it makes me feel like I am being appreciated for my excellence, whether it’s for my grades or leadership,” said Shakila Miller, a senior criminal justice major. “This means that Grambling notices their students and is willing to take the time out to show it.”