Why You Should Attend University Convocation

Why You Should Attend University Convocation

Immersing yourself into the MTSU community begins with attending a massive welcome party. Cool, right?

Each year, University Convocation signals the opening of a new academic year, and with it, the hope of success in every aspect of student life. Faculty and administrators don their finest academic regalia (robes with the funny but very serious hats) to welcome you, the newest class of Blue Raiders!

But why should you go? As you (obviously) know, you’re a college student. Decisions about what events you attend and those you skip now rest solely upon you. You don’t get a grade for Convocation, but attending is one of the most important decisions you’ll make early on during your time as a student.

I’ll try my hardest to convince you of this, but if it doesn’t work, there is a small incentive to attend that I’ll discuss later in this article. Don’t skip ahead, though; I’m always watching and will pull a Professor Snape on your first semester if you skip to the end.

New School, New You

New MTSU students recite the True Blue Pledge at 2017 Convocation.

New MTSU students recite the True Blue Pledge during University Convocation held in August 2018 in Murphy Center. The 2019 University Convocation will be held Saturday, Aug. 24. (MTSU file photo by Andy Heidt)

Stylized poster reading "I am True Blue. As a member of the diverse community, I am a valuable contributor to its progress and success. I am engaged in the life of this community. I am a recipient and a giver. I am a listener and a speaker. I am honest in word and deed. I am committed to reason, not violence. I am a learner now and forever. I am a Blue Raider. True Blue.

The True Blue Pledge

Convocation, which will be held this year on Saturday, Aug. 24, is one of the rare times of the year where most of the campus community, even the administrators and faculty members, get together in one spot. And they’re taking that time out of their schedule for you! Well, you and a few thousand other new students. They want to welcome you to MTSU, and they want to show that they are dedicated to helping you succeed. Plus, as I mentioned earlier, they wear silly hats.

You aren’t just attending Convocation because people are there for you; you’re also attending for yourself. College life is jam-packed with important decisions, and this is one of the easiest ones to make. Sure, you could sit around and watch your favorite show instead, but getting into the habit of dedicating time to experiencing campus events is a smart thing to do before classes start. You’ll meet other new students, future professors who will serve as your references, and learn more about the place you’ll be calling home for the next few years.

The ceremony concludes with the entire audience reciting the True Blue Pledge, a commitment to nonviolence and community involvement that we always should be striving to follow. It’s the perfect way to establish yourself as a student, friend and leader on campus from day one.

Author Talks!

MTSU Convocation speaker Bryan Stevenson

Alabama attorney Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, leaves thousands of new and returning MTSU students and others with a message of hope and mercy while speaking at the 2018 Middle Tennessee State University Convocation in Murphy Center. (MTSU file photo by Andy Heidt)

Say it with me: high school summer reading was THE WORST. Thankfully, summer reading is actually pretty cool in college. Our Summer Reading Program assigns the entire new freshman and transfer class — and anyone else who wants to join in — a single book to read, and professors across campus try their best to tie it into their lectures. It also gives a great ice-breaker topic to discuss when meeting other students!

Convocation, however, is where the big difference in summer reading really shows. Each year, the author comes to campus as the event’s keynote speaker. They’ll talk about themselves, their college life, their book, and give you advice for a successful college experience. Isn’t that awesome? The only way you saw the summer reading author in high school was if you mercifully finished the book and looked at their picture on the back cover!

This year, the Summer Reading Program book is Educated: A Memoir by Dr. Tara Westover. It’s an incredible memoir about her upbringing with survivalist parents and a lack of formal education, and I highly recommend it. The book has been noted as a favorite of former President Obama and philanthropist Bill Gates, and it even won Amazon’s “Best Book of 2018.” Past MTSU guest authors include Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy; J.D. Vance, author of Hillbilly Elegy; and Rajiv Chandrasekaran, author of For Love of Country.

Dr. Tara Westover, author of "Educated: A Memoir"

Dr. Tara Westover, author of “Educated: A Memoir”

Even if you’re not required to read the book, you still won’t want to miss the event. It’s the first of many occasions where accomplished individuals will come share their knowledge with you for free! Just because you’re a student here! Take in their wisdom, and use it as a motivator for a great first semester of college.

Grubbin’ with the President

Attendees at the 2018 University Convocation feast on barbecue, hot dogs and more during the annual President’s Picnic in Floyd Stadium. (MTSU file photo by Andy Heidt)

Attendees at the 2018 University Convocation feast on barbecue, hot dogs and more during the annual President’s Picnic in Floyd Stadium. (MTSU file photo by Andy Heidt)

All right, we’ve arrived at ~the secret weapon~ to get you to come to Convocation. There’s an awesome picnic that occurs right after the event at Floyd Stadium! Yes, there is free food. Yes, there are good hangs. Yes, Dr. McPhee is present, handing out his exclusive buttons. The only things missing are the funny hats! Once all of the official-type formalities are complete at Convocation, it’s an awesome time to relax and enjoy the company of so many Blue Raiders. Don’t forget your sunscreen!


Author Kobe Hermann is a senior at MTSU, majoring in management in the Jones College of Business and minoring in business administration. The views and opinions expressed above are his own.