By Curt Yeomans
An institution "on the border of greatness" is how Clayton State University Interim President Tim Hynes described the school to approximately 250 new students.
The university held its fourth annual new-student convocation ceremony Friday, as university officials welcomed the Class of 2013 to school and encouraged them to get involved in campus life.
Classes begin at Clayton State on Monday.
"You've entered college at both an exciting and challenging time, not only from an economic standpoint, but from an intellectual standpoint as well," Hynes told students. "You enter during the 40th anniversary of this institution's founding, and you join thousands who have come before you in becoming a permanent part of this university."
The convocation is loosely patterned on a graduation ceremony, with several faculty and staff members, including Hynes and the school's vice presidents, donning the academic regalia they also wear during commencement exercises. Faculty and staff members marched behind the university's faculty banner at the beginning of the ceremony, which took place at Spivey Hall.
A keynote address was given by former Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport spokeswoman, Felicia Joy, who challenged the students to discover themselves in college, while also taking responsibility for their finances.
"Take this opportunity to learn exactly who you are," Joy said. "Also, develop a financial formula. Debt is a crippling and devastating thing that can hurt you and hold you back."
After Joy's address, there was a ceremonial induction of the students by Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Micheal Crafton, whose position also calls for him to confer degrees during commencement ceremonies.
Vice President for Student Affairs Brian Haynes then issued a challenge to students.
"You know that thing where they tell you to look to the person on your left, and look to the person on your right, because one of them won't be at the university four years from now?" Haynes asked the students. "Well, we're going to do something different. I want you to look to the person to your left and say 'I'll see you in four years.'"
The students then complied with Haynes' request.
Student Government Association President Darius Thomas led the incoming students as they placed lamp-shaped lapel pins on their shirts. The lamp is a symbol of Clayton State, but it also represents the "lamp of enlightenment," Thomas told the new students.
The convocation ceremony ended with the singing of Clayton State's alma mater, followed by students exiting Spivey Hall between two lines of applauding faculty and staff members.
After the ceremony, Hynes called it a matching "bookend" for the graduation ceremony that will take place when the students have completed their studies and receive their degrees.
"It's our hope that this is a starting point that will lead to the commencement ceremony four years from now," Hynes said.
Incoming freshmen, Jasmine Fuller and Maria Delgadillo, both 18 and psychology majors, said they were impressed by the proceedings. "It's like they are letting us know they actually support us, and want to see us do well while we're here," Delgadillo said.
"It makes me feel like a part of the university," Fuller said.
As classes begin at the university, the school will welcome students back with several events, including:
· A student part-time job fair on Tuesday from 10 a.m., to 2 p.m., in the James M. Baker University Center's "Main Street" area.
· A seminar on understanding credit and debt, also on Tuesday, from 11:30 a.m., to 12:30 p.m., in room 262 of the Baker Center.
· The making of personalized fleece throws on Wednesday from 11 a.m., to 2 p.m., in the Baker Center's "Main Street" area.
· A fraternity basketball tournament, also on Wednesday, at 6 p.m., in the Student Activities Center.
· A student organization showcase on Thursday from 11 a.m., to 1:30 p.m., with nighttime performances by several organizations from 8 to 10 p.m. Both events will take place on the Student Activities Center Green.
· A spray-on temporary-tattoo artist providing students with Clayton State tattoos throughout the day on Thursday, on the Student Activities Center Green.
· An open house at the university's Disability Resource Center on Thursday from 11:30 a.m., to 12:30 p.m., in room 255 of the Student Center.
· A volunteer fair on Friday from 9 a.m., to 2 p.m., at the Student Activities Center.
· A "Wet-N-Wild Block Party" on Friday from 5 to 9 p.m., on the Student Activities Center Green, and in the Student Activities Center ballroom.