“The synergy, the passion, the enthusiasm we’ve created on this campus is just awesome,” said Provost Michelle Woodhouse. “Here in Portsmouth, we are coming together. It takes a village. You can’t make it any other way.”
Speaker Adolph Brown—a Portsmouth native from a single-family welfare home who earned a doctorate and a master’s in addition to a bachelor’s from the College of William and Mary—reminded students that poverty is not a disability.
“When I started reading, I realized poverty is only temporary,” he said. “Education is what did it for me. It’s hard. You’ve got to do things other people aren’t willing to do.
“Dance through the storms,” he stressed. “Anybody can be happy when everything is going good. Who are you when it’s raining?”
Brown encouraged students to “show up, step up and stay up. Every day should be a day of learning,” he said.
Advisor Cressida Leonard talked to the students about the First Year Success program, designed to improve learning for new students via orientation, student development courses, family and friends information sessions and academic alerts.
Students finished the afternoon by lining up to sign a pledge promising to complete their degrees.