East Georgia State College held their Annual Academic Convocation on Thursday, September 3. This year, the Convocation program was presented to the community via livestream on YouTube, with questions being taken via the EGSC Library Chat, and with students, faculty and staff watching and interacting on Zoom. The theme of this year’s Convocation was Racial Justice and Equality, a particularly timely subject.
Dr. Bob Boehmer, EGSC’s president, kicked off Convocation with a welcome and congratulatory message to the Convocation committee. Dr. Sandra Sharman, Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs, spoke to the freshmen class and introduced Rob Nordan who led the students in reciting the Bobcat Pledge.
The special guest speaker for the event was Dr. Patrice Jackson, Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs at Augusta University. She served previously at Albany State University, Georgia Southern University, St. Mary’s University, College of Charleston, and Trinity University. Dr. Jackson earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology from the College of Charleston, her master’s degree in counseling from Webster University, and her Doctorate in Education from Georgia Southern University. She is a strong leader who has a student-centered approach, and her passion for campus collaboration helps continue to enhance student life experience.
Her presentation was Leading With Civility, a timely and much-needed guide for our students who are embarking on a new phase of their lives at East Georgia State College during these uncertain times. The first topic that Dr. Jackson touched on was words have power and can impact so many people.
“We live in a society where we are so comfortable using our words carelessly, and yes there are phrases and metaphors that we use with different cultures and different families and there is nothing wrong with that, but we have to remember that words have power,” said Dr. Jackson.
This led into her next talking point about baggage. Dr. Jackson said that everyone has baggage. Your baggage may be your opinion, your culture, memories, something you have be told, or something you have learned. She said we need to be careful with our baggage and make sure we don’t roll it on someone else and weigh them down. This led into the next topic of don’t assume things.
“We have to work to listen. You have to make sure you are tuned in. You have to make sure you are paying attention to the words and the body language. And then reflect to make sure you actually heard what was being communicated,” said Dr. Jackson. “We make so many assumptions about people. Maybe isn’t because of what they look like, or how they speak, or where they are from, or the family they come from, or their opinions, or their religion, or whatever reason. We make so many painful assumptions about people without knowing their story and every single one of us has a story.”
Dr. Jackson encouraged students, faculty and staff to listen to people and ask questions to understand what they are saying. She then began speaking on her final topic of finding your middle. She said it’s important to find your personal values and open yourself up to learn from others. Dr. Jackson challenged the students listening to be a strong leader and to stand together.
After Dr. Jackson’s speech, students, faculty and staff were able to ask questions.
Academic Convocation is held each year at EGSC to celebrate new students’ entry into higher education, to officially start the new academic year, and to induct new students into the Freshmen Class with our Bobcat Pledge, and to build a sense of group identity or community among the academic family, as well as to share the College’s mission and expectations to new and returning students.