ORANGEBURG, S.C. –Interim President Alexander Conyers is imploring South Carolina State University’s freshman class to take full advantage of the university’s many resources en route to graduation.
“I don’t know how long I will be your interim president,” Conyers told the Class of 2025 during a gathering Thursday at Oliver C. Dawson Stadium, “but I promise to work hard every day to make things better for you and for you to have a great freshman experience.”
Conyers, a retired Army colonel and SC State alumnus, has led the university since July 13. He brought members of the Class of 2025 together at the stadium for a photo session, including an aerial image of the freshmen forming the letters SCSU on the football field.
Interim President Alexander Conyers addresses the SC State Class of 2025 on Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021, at Oliver C. Dawson Stadium on the campus in Orangeburg, South Carolina.
Each student was given a Class of 2025 T-shirt to instill pride in SC State and encourage perseverance to graduation. At approximately 600 strong, the group is SC State’s largest freshman class since 2016.
In a brief address, Conyers asked the freshmen to consider a parable legendary educator and author Booker T. Washington provided in his famous Racial Reconciliation Speech at the International Exposition in Atlanta in 1895, a year before SC State was founded.
Washington spoke of a ship that had been stranded for days without fresh water. When another vessel approached, the ship’s crew issued a distress call for water. “Cast down your buckets where you are” was the repeated response from the other ship. After the fourth such response, the stranded ship’s crew finally lowered their buckets. They were filled with the sparkling fresh water from the mighty Amazon River, which is so strong that it pushes fresh water into the ocean for hundreds of miles.
Interim SC State President Alexander Conyers
“Everything they needed was there. They just had to cast their buckets there,” Conyers told SC State’s freshmen. “I will say that is applicable to you today. Cast down your buckets here at South Carolina State University.
“Everything you need is here – caring professors, caring fellow students, a network of Bulldogs across this country,” he said. “I’ve lived and served in so many places, but I’ve never gone one place where there was not a fellow Bulldog to help me along the way – to teach, coach and mentor me.”
The interim president’s message was not lost on Kamesha Gaillard, a freshman commuter student from Orangeburg.
“You only go to college like this one time,” said Gaillard, who enjoyed Thursday’s opportunity to connect with fellow members of the Class of 2025 and make new friends. “You might as well do everything and take in everything while you can.
“I want to make sure I get everything I need for my studies,” she said.
Freshman Kamesha Gaillard