On February 1 at 11 a.m. inside the Annie Merner Pfeiffer Chapel, Bennett College held its annual Convocatum EST ceremony, during which 10 new students were formally welcomed to the College.
Convocatum EST is a special ceremony. Although Tamia Allen, Patience Bowora, Olivia Chisholm, Destiny Edwards, Tiffany Graves, BreAnna James, Shantaga Lemasney, Niesha Palmer, Mikayla Smith and Bryce Wesley have been attending classes for a month, they became “official” Bennett College students on February 1 when they got to witness their names in the Bennett College Register.
Convocatum EST was originally scheduled for January 18, but the date was changed because of inclement weather.
One by one on February 1, the ten new students walked across the stage and shook the hand of Bennett College President Dr. Phyllis Worthy Dawkins. Afterward, they walked down the steps, looked to see their names in the College Register and returned to their seats. As their names were called, some of their classmates clapped for them.
Convocatum EST is an important event at Bennett, during which the faculty and members of the President’s Leadership Team process in regalia and the Bennett Belles dress in white.
The ceremony began with Dawkins proclaiming, “As President of Bennett College, I am calling the College together for the 145th Academic Session in Greensboro, North Carolina.” Next the Reverend Dr. Natalie McLean ’80 gave the invocation.
“Help each student as a new Bennett Belle to be filled with the discipline to learn in mind, body and spirit,” McLean said. “In temptation make her pure and strong. In conflict make her just and wise. In her studies give her skills to enrich her common bond of learning.”
After the invocation, freshwoman Jamie Rose ’21, read from Ecclesiastes 3:1-11. The scripture reading was followed by the Charge to the Faculty, led by Provost Dr. Dorothy Browne, the president’s acknowledgment of the faculty and the presentation of the Class of 2021.
During Dawkins’ Convocatum address, she encouraged the students not to forget why they’re in college.
“Young ladies, we’re glad you’ve chosen Bennett College as your home away from home for the next four years,” she said. “You have made an excellent choice in Bennett, where we strive to ensure you graduate in four years, confident and competent and ready to assume your rightful place in today’s global society.”
Dawkins drew a few chuckles when she told the students to pay attention in class – likely because of the examples she used to illustrate possible distractions for them.
“Don’t get on social media sites like Snapchat or Instagram,” she said. “Likewise, don’t be thinking about a telephone call you had the night before, somebody you’ve got your eye on or the latest Rhianna or Beyoncé song.
“Stay focused on what your professors are teaching you and participate in classroom discussions,” Dawkins continued. “Study hard and remember that while it’s expected and even encouraged for you to have some fun in college, you’re here first and foremost to earn your degree. Young ladies, please never lose sight of the primary reason you are here.”