Black and Gold Convocation brings distinguished alumnus to App State

Emily Broyles, Reporter

Freshman and transfer students were officially recognized as App State’s newest Mountaineers Tuesday during the annual Black and Gold Convocation ceremony. 

This year’s welcome did not reflect the common reading like in the past, but speaker and alumnus Harry Williams reflected on his success and passion at App State.

Williams, class of ‘86, ‘88 and ‘95, now serves as president and CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. According to its website, TMCF “is the nation’s largest organization representing the Black College Community.” 

Williams, 2013 recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award, said coming back to speak at the ceremony was like coming back home.

“It was 1982 when I came here on this campus 27 years ago,” Williams said. “The spirit of the mountains and the spirit of the community and the spirit of the faculty and the staff is still here.”

 Williams credited his time at App State for starting his success. He was a first-generation college student, track team member, and employee at the university. 

Williams said the four years he spent as an undergraduate at App State were “the best four years of his life” because he met people that genuinely cared about his education. He jokingly added that his math professor called him on class days, ensuring he came.

He encouraged students to lean on professors and to have an open mind in the classroom.

“You have the knowledge, but recognize you’re here now and you’re starting fresh,” Williams said about transitioning to App State .“So, you have zero knowledge and the faculty members are going to give you more.”

He wished first-year students good luck as they embark on their college careers.

“Get engaged, be involved, be present and be active,” Williams said. “I promise you, when this journey ends, you will reflect on these times, and you’re going to wish you were back in those times.”

Williams said students made the right decision coming to App State. 

“It’s always been the school I’ve wanted to go to, like since the sixth grade,” Moregan Kellie, a freshman studio art major, said. “I just always loved it.”

Freshman communications major Anna Lane, whose father attended App State, said she is confident that she can do what Williams believes the class of ‘23 is capable of: succeed.

“I think if you put your mind to things, and you just have a passion, and you work really hard, you can accomplish most things,” Lane said.