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Fall Convocation Inspires and Delights

York College President Berenecea Johnson Eanes hosted an in-person Convocation this year for the first time since the COVID pandemic began in 2020.

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The event, emceed by chair of Performing and Fine Arts, Professor Thomas Marion, was held outdoor in the college’s amphitheater, and was a wonderful change of pace marking the official opening of the 2022-2023 Academic Year.

In addition to the president, provost, vice presidents and York Student Government president speaking, the September 8 event also featured for the  first time, a distinguished alumni speaker. Clinton Ehidom, MD was valedictorian of the York College Class of 2018 and was chosen as the inaugural alumni speaker. He shared his inspiring story from Nigeria to New York at the age of 12, [to York College at 16] and resident physician in neurology at the age of 24.

President Eanes was jubilant that Convocation could be held as an in-person forum again and defined the word convocation, in light of the fact that the COVID pandemic had blocked recent such events from being in-person.

“Convocation comes from the Latin convocare, which means to ‘call together,’ she said. “For us, here today, we are celebrating the joy of being together after separation and struggle since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020.”

As a result of their tenacity in the face of those difficult years, the President once again thanked the college community for making it possible to continue functioning “and thriving” throughout the pandemic.

She counted off a list of accomplishments that give all of us a reason to celebrate, including York’s Military Friendly Silver Award that “reflects our support and dedication to military and veteran students.” Additionally, the president, who has now entered her fourth academic year at York, mentioned our ranking in US News as the #11 top performer on social mobility; and US News #19 in top public colleges. We are also thrilled that the college now has the Accelerate, Complete, and Engage (ACE) Program to help students succeed.

Resplendent in red academic regalia, the president added that faculty scholarship is on the rise despite the pandemic. “York faculty attracted over $2.5 million in sponsored programs in 2021,” President Eanes reported. But she saved the best for students, welcoming the first-year students by introducing them to “a network of caring faculty, administrators, and support staff who will be your teachers, mentors, and biggest supporters.” Together, we are ‘One York’!”

Interim Provost Dr. Derrick Brazill, encouraged continuing faculty success and welcomed the new class and returning classes of students as well.

“Your arrival revitalizes the campus, providing a vibrant energy and sense of excitement that is missing during the summer,” said Provost Brazill. “You are the heart and the soul of this college, and we are thrilled to have you all here.”

Dr. Karen Williams, interim vice president for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, encouraged the freshman class to work hard, engage and stay connected for success. “The members of the York College Community care deeply about your academic and professional goals and will do everything we can to support you in achieving them,” Dr. Williams assured. “We are ready and committed to accomplish this mission. York offers an extensive array of programs and resources to complement the rigorous, high quality academic offerings.”

She also touted the value of the one-stop Welcome Center at the entrance of the Academic Core Building, and described her division as being “responsible for educating you on how to navigate our systems and integrate you into our culture of care.”

Dr. Ehidom, never one to miss an opportunity to support his alma mater’s students, shared with the roughly 60 students in the audience how he managed to succeed academically while working “several” campus jobs.

“Surround yourself with people on the same mission as you,” he told them. “Positive people. Don’t make excuses. It is important to look at yourself. Know your ‘why’ because if you don’t know your why, you will quit. Do the hard thing…and remember, if you want a story worth writing about, whatever you start, finish.”

The opening event ended with Student Government members leading a chant of “Together we are One York!” To the delight of all, Commencement was followed by an ice cream social and other celebratory highlights on the sunny, late-summer day.