Aug. 1, 2011
SHSU Media Contact: Jennifer Gauntt
Stephanie Elizondo is a senior criminal justice major and Spanish minor from Plano. She has been selected to serve as this year's student speaker at New Student Convocation. In the following, Elizondo discusses her experiences at the convocation three years ago and what the ceremony has come to mean to her.
Coming to college was probably one of the scariest moments of my entire life. Leaving behind my best friends and everything that I had known for the past 18 years of my life to start new in a town that was nothing like Plano was terrifying. As a first-generation college student, I had no one to ask the typical freshman questions to put me at some sort of ease before taking the three-hour drive to my new home for the next four years. Against my will my parents packed up the car with all my stuff and brought me to Sam Houston State University in August 2008 to move into the Alpha Chi Omega house, since I had just accepted a bid two weeks earlier. They helped me unpack and get situated before we headed to the New Student Convocation, which was going to be the last thing I attended with my parents before I was on my own.
The New Student Convocation is the first of many official ceremonies that Sam Houston students attend while they are here. It designed to be a celebration between parents and students for their decision to continue their education, particularly here at Sam Houston. It is an event that is strategically planned for by a committee of the university’s staff and faculty in order to make it the best experience possible for the newly arriving students. In attendance are the deans of the colleges, members of the Texas State University System Board of Regents, the President’s Cabinet as well as SHSU’s president Dr. Dana L. Gibson, all showing support for the new Bearkats.
I was approached by Brandon Cooper (a university staff and New Student Convocation committee member) earlier this year to audition for the part of the student speaker for the convocation. I agreed because I remembered how it felt being a freshman without a clue what to do. I wanted to provide our incoming students with the same welcoming and real atmosphere that helped me when I was in their spot. Looking back to my New Student Convocation, I remember how nervous and confused I was while sitting in the coliseum. I had no clue what all the decorations and robes meant, and I was so eager to learn why they were present. This ceremony helped me realize that coming to Sam Houston State was the right decision for me because it made me see that I was going to always have help every step of the way; that it was normal for me to feel lost and overwhelmed, but I would be able to soon find my place in this prestigious university with the help of the faculty and staff. That no matter how many bumps and wrong turns there are, you will be able to find your way back because this university truly cares about its students.
During my time at Sam Houston, I have been privileged to have met such amazing people in the university and to become a part of many well-known organizations. For me, being able to speak at New Student Convocation is an opportunity to let the students know that things may be chaotic at first but once you get the hang of things and use the resources that are available to you, everything will be easier. I truly encourage every new student to attend the New Student Convocation because it is a very special ceremony that is meant to give you a foundation for your years here at Sam Houston. There are so many opportunities that are awaiting you once you step onto the campus, and dreams of success can become a reality with hard work and perseverance. “The measure of a Life is its Service” is our university’s motto and the main goal of the university is to guide its students to truly live out that motto. I am a representation of that because without the faculty and staff I would not of been able to accomplish half of the things that I have. Being a Bearkat is something to truly be proud of and the New Student Convocation is just the first stop down the road to success.
New Student Convocation will be held on Aug. 20, beginning at 5:30 p.m. in the Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum. Student participants are asked to arrive at least 15 minutes early.
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