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Today@Sam Article


New Student Convocation Speakers Share 'Moving' Experiences

Aug. 1, 2013
SHSU Media Contact: Jennifer Gauntt

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Hall and Bierhaus
Saiquan Hall and Brooke Bierhaus will share the spotlight as this year's New Student Convocation student speakers, giving freshmen their first, official "welcome" as Bearkats. —Photos by Brian Blalock


Senior kinesiology major Brooke Bierhaus and sophomore political science major Saiquan Hall will address incoming freshmen as the student speakers at this year's New Student Convocation. Below, the two remember their very different reactions to leaving home for SHSU, give advice to freshmen and discuss the impact an event like New Student Convocation can make. Two New Student Convocation ceremonies will welcome freshmen to SHSU on Aug. 24, at 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. in the Gaertner Performing Arts Center Concert Hall. To see other students' first-year experiences, click here.

Brooke Bierhaus

All through high school I thought I was ready; I thought I had what it takes to be a college student. I wanted the freedom to make my own decisions without my parents telling me "no." I was in for a total shock when the day to move in finally came.

On student move-in day I came up with a reason why I couldn’t leave home; the next day I had another reason, and even the day after. Finally, the night before school started, I could no longer put off leaving home. My parents and I made the hour-and-a-half drive to Huntsville, dropped off my things, and I watched them drive away. I ran back into my room and called my mom, and we talked on the phone for countless hours. I quickly found out I wasn’t ready. Nothing could have prepared me for the feelings I felt those first few days.

Brooke's 'New Start'

The story does get better. It took some time, but I started joining organizations, playing on intramural and club sport teams, and making lifelong friendships. My second semester I joined Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority and things started looking up. I had found a new home. I come from a large, close family and a sorority is exactly what I needed in college. I also joined the Sam Houston State Women’s Lacrosse team and made friends that will be in my life forever. I’ve become so passionate about campus involvement, and I love seeing fresh faces and thinking of all the amazing things those students will do on this campus.

As many of you leave home for the first time, I offer this advice: the best way to merge into college life is to attend school events such as New Student Convocation. Convocation is not only your official welcome to SHSU, but it will be your first major college experience, mirroring what will happen during your last major college experience, graduation. As one of this year’s New Student Convocation student speakers, I can tell you that convocation is such an exciting time in the first-year experience and is a great way to meet new students just like you. At New Student Convocation, and other campus events, you will learn about the traditions of Sam Houston State University, and these events serve as an opportunity to meet other students, staff and faculty. I have found that being involved is the best way to build an appreciation for your university, build a resume, and make friendships that will last forever.

In retrospect, I wish I would have moved in earlier to attend campus events before school started, so I could meet other students who were just as scared and excited as I was. No matter how those first few days of independence go, just give it time and things will look up. It is a difficult adjustment, but you will come to love Sam Houston and college life.

Saiquan Hall

I came to Sam Houston State for the first time in 2011, and I haven’t looked back. Although not my first choice for college, SHSU offered, in my opinion, something that was different from many of the other schools I had experienced: the campus was beautiful, the people oozed with generosity and realism, and the professors and advisers I met exuded a sense of caring unlike any other educator I had ever met in academia. Amidst arriving at SHSU, I had never been more anxious in my entire life. I can remember trying to rush my family out of Huntsville that night so that I could finally be on my own.

That day, the New Student Convocation was filled with great speeches and was set in a great atmosphere. Being inside the Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum for the first time gave me a feeling like no other. As I looked on the stage, I saw and pondered the successes and setbacks that President Dana Gibson and the deans of those many colleges had experienced during their time in college, myself wondering if someday students and young people would admire me the way I was admiring them. I remember looking back and seeing, what seemed like to me, endless rows of parents and grandparents, uncles and aunts, who were there in support of their students and thinking of the day when I would be sitting in their shoes, giving my kids away to our country’s higher education system.

Saiquan's Story

Convocation has changed significantly since I attended, moving from the large parameters of the coliseum to the smaller halls of the James and Nancy Gaertner Performing Arts Center. What once had one convocation speaker will now boast two charismatic speakers with different first-year experiences. With the large influx of incoming freshmen, this year’s convocation will be like no other. It will be fun, exciting, powerful, scary, and leave the incoming freshman class feeling anxious for what the future holds for him or her. Students will see first-hand the deans of every college here, the student body president, and will hear exciting remarks from Dr. Gibson herself.

During my time at SHSU I have had the privilege of doing things and networking with people that I never thought possible. Whether it was speaking in Austin before the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board for their P-16 Initiative with the Sam Houston Elite program or being a resident adviser at Sam Houston Village, Sam Houston State University has helped me grow and change in ways that I never thought possible. I can honestly say that I have come a long way from the anxious freshman who arrived for check-in at Randle House to a young adult with two years left in his college tenure who is still looking toward the future. Like I did, I hope that the class of 2017 departs New Student Convocation with a new sense of hope and aspiration and is ready to confront the challenges that lie ahead. It is an experience like no other and is the best way to begin the new school year.


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