ORANGEBURG, S.C. – A university tradition born from family traditions.
That’s what South Carolina State University Acting President Alexander Conyers hoped to achieve from Thursday’s Legacy Luncheon, an event for incoming freshmen whose parents or grandparents also attended SC State.
“It is a great feeling,” SC State graduate Amber Lambert said of her son Akario Brown’s decision to enroll at her alma mater. “I’m overwhelmed, I’m excited, and I am actually honored that he chose to follow in my footsteps and his dad’s footsteps.”
Lambert described her time as an SC State student as one of the best experiences of her life, as she developed lifelong friendships.
Amber Lambert pins an SC State legacy pin to her son, Akario Brown at Thursday’s Legacy Luncheon.
“I met so many people. I learned so many things,” she said. “It was a very family-oriented, caring environment.”
At Thursday’s luncheon, Lambert had the chance to pin Brown’s SC State legacy pin, which Conyers also hopes to make a tradition. She appreciated the chance for her son to mingle with President Conyers, First Lady Agatha Conyers and student leaders on the freshman’s first day of campus life.
“Everybody doesn’t get that opportunity,” Lambert said. “This was not something we were not going to miss.”
Brown seemed to fit right in as he chatted with Student Government Association leaders during the luncheon. He also was ready to start life on his own.
“It feels good,” he said. “I get to do something that I want to do and show other people how to be a leader. I’ve got to stay focused, maintain my grades and not slack around. I have to learn how to use my time.”
Conyers said he considered it important to honor such loyal families as they arrived for move-in day at SC State.
“I thought it was important to recognize them for understanding and believing that the same South Carolina State University that educated and elevated them would do the same for their sons or daughters,” Conyers said. “They trust in this university. They believe in its mission. They believe in the faculty and staff, as well as the administration.”
The acting president said he hopes this year’s new crop of legacies will continue the tradition when their own children are ready for college.
SC State University President Alexander Conyers and First Lady Agatha Conyers with a few of the legacy freshmen who arrived at SC State Thursday for the Fall Semester.
“We have some third and fourth generation students here this year,” Conyers said. “Hopefully their children and their grandchildren will continue to see South Carolina State as a viable option.”
One such third generation student was Marion Patterson, whose grandmother, Vernell Thomas Brown, was a member of the SC State Class of 1971, which celebrates its golden anniversary this year. She is a former president of the SC State National Alumni Association. So far, three children and two grandchildren have followed her legacy.
“I know they are getting a good education,” she said. “I received a good education. My children got a good education, and it’s a great college experience.
“My word to my children and my grandkids and other children is ‘Come, have a good experience, do your work, and they will prepare you for the world,’” she said.
Legacy freshman Isaiah Garvin arrived at SC State after graduating from high school in Hawaii, where his alumnus father was stationed with the military before the family relocated to South Carolina. Like several of his peers, he was unable to make it to luncheon.
SC State was already familiar territory.
“I just remember my dad used to bring me to basketball games and football games and stuff like that,” Garvin said. “I thought it was really cool, and with the family connection, I just really like it.”
Garvin isn’t taking his newfound responsibilities as a young adult for granted.
“I want to prove to my parents and mostly to myself that I can do start to do things on my own,” he said. “It seems like a lot, but I can do it. I can definitely do it.”