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CSU welcomes new students

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

As it turns out, there is no room for actress, and tabloid mainstay, Lindsay Lohan, in official ceremonies at Clayton State University, according to the school's president, Tim Hynes.

Hynes welcomed 250 new students to the university by offering his own, college-themed version of late-night talk show host David Letterman's Top 10 list, during the university's fifth annual New Student Convocation ceremony last Friday. The president's only promise was that Lohan was not involved.

"I will tell you now that Lindsay Lohan will not be mentioned anywhere in this Top 10 list," Hynes said, prompting laughter from students and Clayton State faculty members a like.

The convocation ceremony served as an official welcome for new students, ahead of classes, which began at the school on Monday. According to Clayton State's Interim Associate Vice President for Enrollment Services Mark Daddona, there are 450 freshmen, and 1,100 "non-freshman, new students" scheduled to begin classes this week.

While not every new student participated in the convocation, the 250 who did set a new record for participation in the annual event, said the university's Orientation and New Student Programs Director Celina Milner. She said one of the new parts of the ceremony, this year, was the addition of monologues about life at the university, that were presented by four returning Clayton State students.

As each monologue presenter spoke, the lights within Spivey Hall were dimmed so that the speaking pupil was illuminated only by a spotlight.

"The Convocation Planning Committee reviewed a number of other schools' new student convocations, and the most successful ones included more student involvement," Milner said. "We really wanted the students to hear other students talk about their experiences at the university, and of course, Spivey Hall lends itself to that kind of performance."

But, the students' monologues were just a warm-up to the keynote address, which was given by Hynes, who is scheduled to be formally installed as Clayton State's fourth permanent president in October. During his speech, Hynes compared the convocation, and graduation ceremonies, as matching events, that kick off, and later conclude, a student's college career.

Hynes, and members of the university's faculty and staff, wore their academic regalia, consisting of the caps and gowns that they usually wear at commencement exercises.

"We look at it as a set of bookends," Hynes said. "With the first bookend, the faculty introduces themselves to you in this academic endeavor. With the other bookend, we congratulate you, and welcome you into the ranks of college graduates across the country, and here at Clayton State."

And, as part of his welcoming address to CSU's newest students, Hynes also offered some advice for surviving college in his No-Lindsay Lohan, Top 10 list.

The tips on Hynes' list included:

* No. 10: "Go to class."

* No. 9: "Master and meet your professors."

* No. 8: "Get a planner, and stay organized."

* No. 7: "Use your time wisely."

* No. 6: "Use your textbooks."

* No. 5: "Get to know your roommates, and others in your residence hall, and in your classes."

* No. 4: "Strive for good grades."

* No. 3: "Stay on campus, or with other Clayton State students, as much as possible."

* No. 2: "Seek professional help when you need it."

* No. 1: "Study -- Study -- Study."

Several of Clayton State's newest students said the convocation ceremony helped the realization that they were in college, sink in. A few of the new pupils pointed to the faculty members marching into the ceremony, wearing their academic regalia, as the moment when it clicked in their heads that they were not in high school anymore.

"It gave me the feeling that I was at a graduation, and it was like, 'OK, I'm here now, this is really happening,'" said Alex Reeves, 18, a freshman psychology student from Atlanta.

Still, new student Antonette McKenzie, a freshman engineering major from the Bronx, N.Y., said the fact that she is now a college student sank in before the convocation ceremony. "It sunk in when I moved into the dorm [Laker Hall]," McKenzie said. "The thing that made me realize I was in college now was waking up, and not hearing my brothers."

New student, Maleka McClinton, 18, a freshman psychology major from Atlanta, said watching the faculty members in their academic regalia strengthened her resolve to graduate from college. "I don't want to give up on college," she said. "I want that to be me, someday, standing on stage in my cap and gown."