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August 26, 2011

ULM alum joins others for rousing Convocation tradition

The University of Louisiana at Monroe held its official opening of the academic year on Wednesday, Aug. 24, in Fant-Ewing Coliseum with ULM Alum Dr. Joseph Giannobile serving as 10th Annual Convocation speaker.

Scores of freshmen and first-year pharmacy students packed the Coliseum, welcomed by President Nick J. Bruno, and other university faculty and staff. Fifteen incoming freshmen were invited onstage and given new iPads in recognition of their winning "Top Hawk" essays. To compete, the students met stringent academic guidelines, including a 3.0 GPA and at least a 26 on their ACT.

The convocation segued into a rousing pep rally, led by Student Government Association President Brooke Dugas, and backed by several spirit groups, the Sound of Today Marching Band, Head Coach Todd Berry and Ace, the Warhawk mascot.

Noting that the rain coming down outside would not dampen "the parade" going on inside, ULM Director of Retention Barbara Michaelides said the convocation ceremony marked the beginning of "one of the greatest personal and intellectual journeys" of each freshman's life.
After expressing his gratitude to ULM for the time he spent as an undergraduate student of the university, Giannobile said the start of a college career brings new challenges and the opportunity to set new goals. 

"I feel there are four important aspects to achieving success: the first is commitment, the second is mentorship, the third is knowledge and the fourth is perseverance," he told the freshmen.

Giannobile said that in order to have commitment and dedication, one must first determine to what he or she is dedicated. Giannobile said as an undergraduate, he confirmed his commitment to being a physician by volunteering in a local emergency room and working at a local physician's office.  

"I believe volunteering and working in the field of your choice helps you better determine if it is the right path for you," he said. "Many of you will volunteer in the field you are interested in and then decide to go in a different direction … regardless of the path that you choose, be committed to becoming the preeminent professional in your field."

Giannobile said having a positive mentor is important because of the encouragement he or she provides along the way, adding that one of his biology professors at ULM provided exactly that kind of extra enforcement and guidance.

"It is easy as you go throughout your day to forget about those who educate you," he said. "You should use them to your full advantage. Your professors are there for you.  They are here at ULM because they not only care about the topic that they are teaching, but they also care about helping you have all the knowledge you need to succeed."

Giannobile added, however, that learning is ultimately the students' responsibility.

"You have to take some personal responsibility for your learning," he said. "My best advice to you is to absorb the knowledge your professors teach you and push yourself to understand and know more. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Don't be afraid to pursue knowledge."

In the end, Giannobile said much of life comes down to perseverance. 

"Remember that staying the course towards your goal will lead you to the place of success that you are reaching for," he said. "I know that if each of you remains determined and stays committed, not only to your interest but also to your education, you will find success."

Following Giannobile's address, the semester was declared opened and the students joined in singing ULM's fight song, followed by an ice cream social on the Coliseum floor.

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