Recap: New Jersey City University’s 40th Annual Convocation


Tamara Cunningham (vice president of Global Initiatives), Anthony Jack, Thyquel Halley (SGA president), and provost Tamara Jhashi. Photo by Robert Quinones.

Monica Ortiz, Contributing Writer

New Jersey City University held its 40th Annual Convocation in the Margaret Williams Theatre. This Convocation was different compared to the others because this semester is the first time since the spring 2020 semester that a majority of in-person classes were held. The keynote speaker was Dr. Anthony Jack, assistant professor of Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and author of The Privileged Poor: How Elite Colleges Are Failing Disadvantaged Students.

The convocation started with Francis Moran, president of the University Senate and chairperson of Political Science, leading NJCU faculty and administration dressed in academic robes down the aisle of the theater. Olivia Ventura, junior at NJCU, opened the ceremony singing the country’s national anthem, the Star-Spangled Banner, and closed the ceremony singing the university’s alma mater, Green & Gold.

President Sue Henderson opened with a speech. “This ceremony is an invaluable reminder that we are a community of individuals. Convocation honors the professionalism, the depth of knowledge, and the commitment that each of us demonstrates to enrich each other’s lives,” she said. She noted that this convocation is important because it is not only the 40th convocation but the first in-person convocation since 2019. She emphasized how important convocation is as an academic tradition because it signifies the beginning of the academic year while graduation signifies the end of the academic year.

Convocation honors the professionalism, the depth of knowledge, and the commitment that each of us demonstrates to enrich each other’s lives.

— President Sue Henderson

Afterward, provost Tamara Jhashi explained her position at the university. She is the chief academic officer. Next, she gave her advice to the incoming freshman in the audience in the form of three Cs: curiosity, creativity, and courage. “Curiosity about the world fuels almost every human endeavor. Great inventors, scientists, scholars, and artists often make their mark upon history with the spark of curiosity,” she explained. The next C is creativity, and she said, “While we might think that creativity is confined to the visual musical or literary arts it is just as relevant to math science and engineering a prime example is the marriage of creativity and technology in the revolutionary work of the late Steve Jobs.” The last C is courage, she said, “Take a class on something that’s outside your major that might seem baffling to you but that will push you beyond what comes easy, and you will learn a lot about yourself.”

Thyquel M. Halley spoke next. Halley is a junior political science major and was elected to the Student Government Association presidential position in May. He began his speech by mentioning that the COVID-19 pandemic made all our lives very difficult due to online learning being new for most of us. The keynote speaker, Dr. Anthony Jack, spoke right after Thyquel. He echoed the struggle that COVID-19 has caused us all but encourages us to not give up and to keep pushing forwards.

Guest speaker at the 2021 Convocation, Dr. Anthony Jack. Photo by Robert Quinones.

After his speech, Jack had a short Q&A to answer some questions. He ended up answering a few questions, thoroughly. The first question was asked by a female member of the orchestra. She asked why he initially wrote his book The Privileged Poor. Jack explained that “there is nothing worse than having an untold story inside you,” so he felt he had to write the book. He was then asked by an incoming freshman from the back of the theater, and they asked what kept him going through his education. The next question was why he picked sociology as a major. Jack answers saying that he likes working with people and likes “qualitative instead of quantitative”. The last question was asked by another incoming freshman from the front of the theater, and they asked how he responds to those who supported him when he was younger and how we responded to those who showed him hate. He responded by saying to not entertain other people’s jealousy or lack of ambition. Dr. Anthony Jack received an academic achievement at the end of the ceremony, honored by Henderson.