News Release

Your Path to Student Success: Celebrating the New Academic Year

On Friday, Aug. 25, students, faculty, and staff gathered in the Knight Arena for Southern Virginia University’s annual convocation and faculty processional to celebrate the beginning of the 2023–24 academic year and learn about the path to student success.

“Convocation literally means to gather together towards a common goal,” said Provost James Lambert. “Most universities have a convocation at the beginning of the school year to gather students together as they begin their academic and intellectual journey with graduation held at the end of the school year, showing the journey of how we gather at the beginning and graduate at the end.”

Student Body President Benjamin Whitted

Currently a junior at Southern Virginia, Student Body President Benjamin Whitted shared his journey as a student and how his involvement in multiple arenas of campus, including student government, athletics, and clubs, helped him grow as a person and student.

“Please come and please be with us,” said Whitted. “I want to invite you to be an active participant on campus and not limit yourself to one or two areas. Join a club, come to student life activities, join a committee, sing in a choir, or be in a band. There are so many opportunities here on campus, and you don’t want to miss out on something beautiful. You belong here.”

Michael Frye, the director of student success and a 2017 graduate of Southern Virginia, spoke on the importance of visualizing yourself graduating and putting in the work to reach your goals.

“Everyone has a unique path to graduation, and there are so many different ways to view undergraduate student success,” said Frye. “There’s resilience, social development, physical development, and spiritual development. To me, student success is every degree-seeking student in this room right now visualizing themselves in a cap and gown on graduation day, knowing they put in the time and effort to pave the path to success. You all got this.”

Comparing the journey of a student to hiking the famous Appalachian Trail, Lambert shared the journeys of several recently graduated students and how Southern Virginia helped them on their path to earning their degree and achieving success.

“Like the Appalachian Trail, Southern Virginia has also been a place of transformation to some of the best and most prepared students in the world,” said Lambert. “Your time here will be beautiful, transformative, social, and inspiring, but will also contain many ups and downs. However, you are surrounded by people here who are excited to help you, strengthen you, and even challenge you as you work towards your destination of graduation.”

Acting President Eric Denna

To close convocation, Acting President Eric Denna offered the benediction and blessing on campus, expressing gratitude for blessings and asking for strength, guidance, and the Holy Ghost’s presence on campus during the school year.

The event featured a musical number, “Brand New,” by Ben Rector, performed by faculty and students. At the end of convocation, the campus community sang the University anthem, “Love One Another” and the faculty recessed from the Knight Arena.