Hundreds of students were applauded for their outstanding academic achievements during the Claflin University 2014 Honors and Awards Convocation, held Tuesday morning in Tullis Arena at Claflin’s Jonas T. Kennedy Health and Physical Education Center.
“This morning, we pause to recognize, celebrate and honor Claflin University academic achievement,” Claflin Provost Dr. Karl S. Wright said in opening the program. “Know that we understand and appreciate the effort that went into your success. We salute you, your hard work and your accomplishments.”
The theme for this year’s event was “Preserving the Legacy: Transformation of the Academy.” Keynote speaker was Claflin alumnus and Mellichamp Elementary School Principal Hayward Jean, who challenged students to “go deeper” in their academic and life journeys.
“Whatever you do, do it with all of your might,” he said. “You were placed on this Earth to do one thing, and that is to help make life better for other people.”
Growing up in poverty, Jean said he came to understand early on that there was so much more to his life than the circumstances in which he was born.
“It is not about what I am going through – it is about where I am going,” he said. “I had to understand that my life had purpose.
“Claflin produces leaders. What type of leaders? Visionary leaders who walk by faith and not by sight. And as a visionary leader, you are never satisfied with where you are, because you’re constantly looking at where you want to be or where you’re supposed to be.”
Jean said it is essential for students to seek out a mentor who has already walked the same path they want to take – and to be a mentor to those who are walking behind them.
“It’s your obligation and your responsibility to make life better for other people, because somebody gave their life to make life better for you,” he said. “You are gifted to do something on this Earth that nobody else on this Earth can do but you.”
Although he became a school principal after just a few short years as a teacher, Jean said his story is far from over.
“I’m still working – I’m literally in the middle of my story right now,” he said. “That’s why I keep pushing myself to go deeper, to be that person who makes life better for other people. And that’s what I’m challenging you to do.”
In addition to recognizing the President’s Honor List and Dean’s List students, the following students were honored individually for their exceptional academic achievements:
Unit Awards for Outstanding Achievement and Scholarship (students with the highest cumulative GPA in their respective majors)
- School of Business: Keziah Knights, Accounting, and Leadership and Service Award recipient; Brianna Alexander, Finance; David Europe, Management; LaChrystal Robinson, Marketing; William Pace, Business Administration