Neal-Marshall directors organized the freshman pinning ceremony as a rite of passage from high school to university life.
It was not a typical night at the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center’s Grand Hall, as ushers stood at the door and welcomed students, faculty and guests to a backdrop of live jazz saxophone.
Professors and members of the Neal-Marshall community arrived to show their support for incoming freshmen. George Taliaferro, a three-time All-American football player at IU and the first African-American drafted by a National Football League team, was one of the guests.
Though the tradition of the freshman pinning ceremony is only in its second year, nearly 40 students participated.
The ceremony began with an introduction delivered by Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs Edwin Marshall. Marshall addressed the freshmen about the opportunities they will have at the University.
“Congratulations on being here,” he said. “You deserve and have earned the right to be here, and you have an opportunity to do something not many people your color or your age have.”
President of IU’s Neal-Marshall Club and IU alumnus Vernon Williams, discussed what he learned from his own freshman experiences.
Junior Leighton Johnson, a Hudson and Holland Scholar and history and African American and African Diaspora studies major, followed with additional tips for ensuring academic success.
Audrey McCluskey, director of African American and African Diaspora graduate studies, and Stephanie Power-Carter, director of the Neal-Marshall Black Cultural Center, led charges. Students and faculty promised to uphold values of the cultural center.
“The idea is that we want to welcome our freshmen and give them a sense of determination and responsibility in their path of excellence, and we would like them to show that they are determined to achieve academic excellence,” Power-Carter said. “We would also like to show students that the faculty is here to support them as well as the Neal-Marshall Black Cultural Center.”
As the ceremony reached its zenith, faculty members stood and made their way to the front of the room to distribute the pins to each student in attendance.
Freshman Kamyron Williams, a cello performance major, was among the
freshmen who participated in the ceremony.
Though Williams had not visited the Cultural Center before the ceremony, he said he was drawn to the event by the sense of community it offered.
“I know I want to be involved with Neal-Marshall,” he said. “Not just on campus but in the Bloomington community.”
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