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Monday, September 15, 2008

Speaker inspires large Convocation crowd

By Chris Adams

“Fear is real, but fear is not reality.”

This was one of the many inspiring messages that captivated the audience at the annual 2008 Convocation ceremony held August 27 at The University of North Carolina by keynote speaker, Andrea Mosby-Jones.

Andrea Mosby-Jones speaking at ConvocationMosby-Jones, the Colorado- based consultant and speaker, captured the attention of the students, faculty, and staff, sharing her stories of struggles and triumph. Her message of hope was greeted by a large audience which packed the 1,700 seats of Givens Performing Arts Center.

Convocation is the traditional start of the academic year. UNCP started the fall semester with record enrollment of 6,235 and more than 1,250 freshmen and transfer student.

Board of Trustees Chair Dr. Breeden Blackwell said he sat through Convocation 44 years ago as a freshman.

“You’re standing on the first step of higher education,” he told freshmen. “You’re in an ideal place to achieve all that you aspire to. Doubt who you will, but never yourself.”

Dr. Anthony Curtis, chair of the Faculty Senate, described UNCP as a place of “crackling energy where curiosity is pervasive.”

“Here it does not matter who your parents are, how rich you are or what you look like,” Dr. Curtis said. “What does matter is how well you do. We, the faculty, believe you can excel.”

Student Government President Hannah Simpson said “expectations can be overwhelming, but success is bred of expectations.”

Mosby-Jones has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Denver and a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from the University of Colorado.

She talked about her degrees and encouraged students to always have a “plan A and a plan B.” She said in the journey of success you will build character.

“A person is old when regrets take the place of dreams,” said Mosby-Jones. “Most people speak from their fears, and not their dreams.”   

She spoke about the qualities of character that make people success including forgiveness. “Unforgiveness,” she said, is like a rubber band around your waist. No matter how far you think you’ve gone, you’re always pulled back.

Mosby-Jones shared the story of how her and her son, Tyrone, made plans for him to meet his father for the first time. After they waited for an hour, his father never showed up. She said she looked her son and told him to do something really weird, “forgive.”

She closed her speech with an uplifting and powerful statement. She said life is a gift, accept it. Life is a mystery, unfold it. Life is beauty, unveil it. Life is an opportunity, take it. Life is a song, sing it. Life is a journey, travel it. Life is about purpose, fulfill it.

“I’m glad I came to Convocation this year,” said Rakesha Johnson, a senior Mass Communications major. “The speaker (Mosby-Jones) was inspiring and motivating for me going into my senior year.”

Chancellor Allen C. Meadors opened the ceremony and offered welcoming remarks to the nearly full house at the Givens Performing Arts Center.

Chris Adams is a senior Mass Communications major. He also provided photography for the event.

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