ASU Holds Historic Five Convocations in the ASU Stadium
By Hazel Scott/ASU
On Friday, Nov. 20, Alabama State University began a historic weekend of convocations in celebration of the institution’s 2020 graduates.
ASU made a historic decision to hold five separate ceremonies in the ASU Stadium instead of the Dunn-Oliver Acadome over three days--Friday, Saturday and Sunday (Nov. 20-22).
Dr. Carl Pettis, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs, expressed that the University's Commencement Committee did extensive planning in preparation for this weekend's Convocations, which include Fall and Spring graduates and the Golden Class of 1970.
“The entire ASU family has rallied together to offer support for the events in order to show our graduates how much we care,” Pettis said.
Each student was allowed five guests to keep the attendance at a manageable level and to aid with social distancing. Guests had to present a valid ticket and had their temperatures checked before entering the stadium. Masks were mandatory and social distancing was enforced in the stands.
President Quinton T. Ross, Jr. said the University was guided by safety in launching the five ceremonies.
“The Alabama State University worked hard to create a safe environment so that we could have a meaningful and memorable experience for our graduates,” Ross said. “It’s a huge honor for the University to be able to do these in-person ceremonies to acknowledge our graduates’ accomplishments and to preserve the essence of this special occasion.”
The atmosphere on Friday was electric as guests and graduates entered the ASU Stadium. Students took selfies and photos with family and friends and were greeted with cheers and handclaps as they marched to their seats, which were spaced 6 feet apart. When they made that long-awaited walk across the stage to receive their diplomas, it was obvious that the grads couldn’t contain their pride neither could the stadium crowd, who clapped, whistled and called their love one’s names out loud.
Several traditional aspects of the program were pre-recorded and shown on the stadium’s scoreboard screen, including the speech given by Commencement speaker, State Sen. Bobby Singleton, a celebrated ASU alumnus.
Challenges for the Graduates
Singleton, a veteran lawmaker who is serving his fourth term in the Alabama State Senate, told the graduates that over the course of the year he has had the opportunity to speak to many groups across the country and across the state of Alabama but speaking at the commencement convocation at ASU holds special meaning.
“There’s nothing more gratifying to me than to come here and speak at my alma mater, The Alabama State University,” Singleton.
He explained that he expects presidents, vice presents, lawyers, engineers and doctors to come from the Class of 2020.
“Looking at this year, you have achieved a monumental achievement. You have achieved something that a lot of other people in this world has not in a pandemic, which has slowed down and shut down just about every aspect of our lives. You had to take online classes, plus other adjustments you had to make, and yet you persevered through all of that and obtained what most people in this world don’t have, a college degree,” he stated. “You are now in an elite class of people holding a college degree and ASU gave you that foundation to get here.”
Singleton challenged the class to be successful and “don’t ever forget to give back to that which made you, including your alma mater, community, family and a little bit to God. “
“I especially challenge the Class of 2020 to never let anyone devalue your education that your received at ASU. Your degree is a world-class degree. You can compete with anyone in the word,” Singleton exclaimed. “Step out into the world and say, ‘I’m here and I’m a graduate of Alabama State University, and I am ready to take you on.’”
Ross also challenged the graduates.
“As you prepare to depart, I charge you to leave with an assignment. I encourage each of you to seize every opportunity to rise to higher and higher levels of professional and personal success. Through discipline, honesty and a commitment to hard work you will do justice to the University’s reputation for excellence. The hopes of your families will be realized and the generations past and present, whose shoulders you stand on, will rejoice in your success. Congratulations and know that we are truly proud of each one of you,” Ross said.
Convocations Continue over the Weekend
The in-person ceremonies for the 2020 Fall graduates continue on Saturday, Nov. 21, at 8:45 a.m. (College of Visual and Performing Arts and College of Education) and at 1:45 p.m. (Percy J. Vaughn, Jr. College of Business Administration, College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, and the College of Health Sciences).
On Sunday, Nov. 22, the 2020 Spring graduates and the Golden Class of 1970 will have their in-person Convocations starting at 8:45 a.m. (College of Education, College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, College of Visual and Performing Arts, and University College) and at 1:45 p.m. (Golden Class of 1970, Percy J. Vaugh, Jr. College of Business Administration, College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, and College of Health Sciences).
The Convocations can be viewed live online at www.facebook.com/asu for fa