The following is the transcript from our Fall Convocation Ceremony.
Good morning and, on behalf of the faculty and staff of Alaska Pacific University, welcome to Convocation and the start of the new academic year!
We have been working hard to prepare for today. And for the new students and their families, it might be reassuring to know that, despite how many times we may have done this, we feel the same way—excited, a little nervous, never 100% ready. But we are prepared, and you are prepared. You, too, have done a lot of hard work to prepare for today.
You may have heard about this Convocation ceremony. Convocation is a gathering that traditionally marks the beginning of the academic term. Good advice is given. Inspiring words are often spoken. In thinking about this momentous occasion, I’m guessing most of the people in this this room have asked ourselves a very important question: Do we really have to go to this?
Tip #1: when it’s on the syllabus or schedule, the answer is usually yes.
But I would like to suggest to you that the better question is, “Why is it important that I came to this?” For that matter, why is it important that we have Convocation at all?
I mean, it’s a small school. You’d figure out who we are and where your classes are eventually, right?
Convocation is particularly important because this gathering of students, faculty, staff, Board members, alumni, friends and family reminds us that, in a world that often prizes individual achievement, at APU, learning is a community activity.
Now, introverts among you (like me), don’t panic. There will still be opportunities to take a walk around University Lake or find a quiet corner to study in the library or plug in headphones to listen to music.
But at APU, learning is a group effort. We value what every member of the community brings to the teaching and learning experience. And we all have a responsibility contribute to the project—ask questions, float ideas, look out for friend on the trail, share a different perspective in class, ask for help.
Yes, asking for help is contributing.
Now, just because there are more of us working on the big project of learning does not necessarily make it easier. In fact, learning as a community activity has its challenges. It’s messy. We all bring different backgrounds, ideas and priorities to learning, and sometimes that means there is conflict or confusion. But we recognize that our community and our learning is richer for this diversity.
And I should also probably warn you that, despite all this collaboration and engagement, at some point during the year, you will feel very alone. Maybe you feel really far from home. Or like you are the only one in the whole class who doesn’t understand the question. Or the only one with a particular life experience.
When that happens, I want you to think about this Convocation. Remember the people who have prepared the paths for your success. Remember the upperclass students who came back early to support you. Picture the faculty and staff who are excited you are here and confident in both your ability and the transformative power of education. Think about the people, some here with you now, who were there for you before college and who will be with you during and after college.
Learning is a community activity. Convocation helps us remember that, and that’s why it’s important that you came.
Thank you for coming. Thank you in advance for what you will contribute to the University community. And have a great year!