Picture of students using computers in the library

The Sand Shark School Year Start

August 28, 2014

The summer break has winded to an end and the beginning of the school year has swam onto the Sand Shark Scene, and  kicking off the start on August 20th was USCB’s "Opening Convocation for the 2014-2015 Academic Year...

Students and faculty alike gathered beneath a large tent surrounded by strategically placed (unusually huge) fans. Our tent was conveniently centered outdoors between our library and student life buildings and it was there that Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Gordon Haist welcomed us all with warmth and wisdom, navigating us through the depths of the term “convocation”.

Haist explained “convocation” (derived from the Latin term convocare-- meaning "to call or come together”) has been a highly regarded tradition since ancient times... In this gathering he explained unites an affirmation of common truth and values of the people who are inaugurating (initiating) a collective pursuit.

vice chancellor (above: Executive Vice Chancellor Dr. Haist gives the Convocation welcome speech)

Essentially in a convocation we have gathered to begin a journey, Haist titled the journey we (the community of USCB) are committing ourselves on as “the pursuit to study the life of the mind”. When our journey in this pursuit reaches its close we gather again and enter into another celebratory University tradition known as: "commencement". Commencement is a time of recognition and a time of new beginnings. For many at the 2014-2015 Convocation, the time of a student's Commencement seems a distant four years away, but sitting as a senior in the audience, I (and others) know it will not look so distant once they are seniors also. My time at USCB has flown… granted!  --I am a transfer student, haha, but the time of my committed pursuit -let’s say, has done more than flown …but rocketed.

The convocation was full of such bitter sweet moments as I reflected on my own educational and life journey thus far… I listened to these leaders within the University who I have developed such special relationships with and I find it hard to imagine what I will feel when I finally reach my own commencement… It’s been an unforeseen five years since beginning life “post high school” and I can certainly say my place, my home, my family at USCB has made the tough and unforeseen times - valuable times, and I think that value and appreciation can be discovered for everyone who comes here to find a home and future at USCB, no matter what point on the road that we call life you are on.

“For what it’s worth … it’s never too late, or in my case too early, to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit. Start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same. There are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people who have a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.” -The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) an American dramatic film, inspired by the 1922 short story written by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

It was these words that our 2014-2015 Student Government Association President, Raechel Blakeney, pulled us in with… Raechel quieted for a moment after she spoke the Fitzgerald inspired idea and preceded by sharing her own experience of first stepping foot on the USCB Campus. Raechel described her earnest inquiry as she journeyed in search for her "college of choice" a few years ago, on a USCB campus tour Raechel walked up to a group of students and out rightly asked if they liked the school, and how they would describe it... The single resounding word (aside from YES) that lived in their response was “family”. Raechel emphasized USCB is a family. Raechel and those students were right, however Raechel deepened the secret for us sitting in the audience, inviting us into her family experience as she described the seaside low country campus fittingly as an oyster and how important it is that we find our pearl, how important it is that we ventureout and find who and what we want to be, what role we will play, what places we will choose to go… Raechel encouraged us to make this experience each our own. She encouraged those coming straight from high school not to wallow or hang on stubbornly to their time and memories of high school but to discover this new time, and take this time to live life and make new memories. She referenced us all back to the beautiful quote she began with reminding us: “it’s never too late”, reminding us “make the best of it”, reminding us to “stay empowered to change --or maintain”, reminding us how “it is okay if we do start over, if we need to start over, if we want to start over, whether it be right now, tomorrow, next week, next year… it’s okay and  ...it’s courageous”. And there we sat each in our own way -I suppose- starting over in however it spoke to us.

president and borton(above: SGA President Raechel Blakeney speaks with Professor of Communication Dr. Borton)

The wisdom and splendor of the words in this ceremony did not end there. Shortly after Raechel we had the joy of listening to Dr. Brett Borton, Professor of Communication Studies in the Department of Social Sciences. (Click here to read my blog on Dr. Borton and his Public Communication class!) Dr. Borton might be best known at USCB for teaching some of the available lots of Public Communication courses (aka Public Speaking / Public Speech). I am confident that anyone who was sitting in the audience with this knowledge was also thinking along with myself “boy the pressure is really on-- cause the thing he is about to do -he teaches!!!”…haha, and of course Dr. Borton in his grand way of humor acknowledged this and shortly after as if staged, a gust of wind blew his papers off the podium seemingly emphasizing the challenge and pressure upon him, we giggled at the “pressure” and easily found ourselves on his team wishing him to do well as thee “Professor of Public Communication”. Needless to say he handled it like a pro and would soon after spill onto us a gust of his of astuteness.

Dr. Borton first confessed his empty nest syndrome approaching as he was currently in the process at home of sending his own children to college and additionally shared the same words he planned to share with us were the ones he gave to his kids: “this is truly the beginning” and Dr. Borton opened that statement with three words: engage, explore, and evolve... Now, I will not share it as poetically and creatively as Dr. Borton did but I will attempt to give you still frames of each of these words and the ways in which Dr. Borton refreshed us with them:

  • Engage: get involved, participate, develop relationships, connect with community, immerse yourself, invest yourself, and live in each experience you have.
  • Explore: keep an open mind as you navigate through this journey it will lead to new prospects, it will lead to unanticipated opportunities, and often those unanticipated opportunities turn out to be the most significant opportunities in life. You are entering into unchartered waters, so go out of your way, give it your all, step out of your comfort zone, and adventure to be an explorer.
  • Evolve: evolve intellectually and evolve in compassion, in empathy, in understanding, in responsibility, in accountability, in your pursuits and in your achievements… and with every achievement find there the invitation to achieve something more. Find in the ever-changing passions who and what you want to be and set out to become the best at it, in it, and the rewards will follow. You may think you know but you will be surprised at just how much potential you have if you commit yourself to doing and being the best you can at it, and it is this: doing the best you can that leaves little room for regret.

Dr. Borton reminded us further: grow, prosper, and realize your dreams… “and another ‘e’ word: ENJOY!”. With this we applauded Dr. Borton: the Public Communication teacher, the father battling empty nest syndrome, the man hopeful and excited for our success.


Chancellor Jane T. Upshaw (pictured above) stood to conclude our ceremony and she did so with sweetly pegging on another ‘e’ word: embrace. Encouraging us to embrace our journey, this school, our experience, every experience, every transformation, and the story: our story. Chancellor Upshaw expressed her hopes that we may continue writing the beautiful, historically transformative, and powerful story of our University. “The best has yet to come,” Spoke Chancellor Upshaw guiding us with her excitement to see the fruits that will be produced by our and the entire school’s labors. “You’ve been invested in to get here, pay that investment forward, one class at a time, one day at a time, one semester at a time…learn, grow, serve, and lead.” And what better way to end this ceremony and start the journey than the Chancellor telling us to proceed to the cafeteria to eat free ice cream? Why, there is none, of course!

Yours Truly: a very happy, grateful, excited, and starting over sand shark,

                                                                                                                                  Erin Dailey