Officially an Owl

KENNESAW, Ga. | Aug 14, 2017

Convocation welcomes first-year students to Kennesaw State

On the eve of their first day of classes at Kennesaw State, first-year students received an official welcome to campus Sunday at the University’s Convocation ceremony.


An annual tradition, First-Year Convocation begins in pep rally-style with the cheer squad and Scrappy the mascot leading the crowd in cheers of “K! S! U!” The ceremony then turns formal, complete with faculty dressed in academic regalia, explaining to first-year students the importance of a college education and the value of a degree from Kennesaw State.

“You are a step closer to making your dreams a reality,” University President Sam Olens told the students assembled at the Convocation Center. “Indeed, this is a proud occasion for everyone gathered here, but especially for those of you who have been accepted into the KSU community of scholars, and for your families and friends here with you today.”

Convocation capped a busy weekend for first-year students, including approximately 3,500 of them moving into on-campus housing on the Kennesaw and Marietta campuses. The newcomers expressed their gratitude for Kennesaw State hosting Convocation and other Week of Welcome activities to help them feel at home right away.

“I’m the first person in my immediate family to go to college, so I haven’t had much experience with what it’s like to be a college student. So it’s really nice to get a grasp of what it’s like,” said Owen Banaitis from Thomasville, Ga., who was drawn to Kennesaw State for its mechatronics engineering program.

“It shows that they’re saying, ‘You mean something to us,’ and, ‘We’re trying to grow this university and we want you to be a part of it and to enjoy it while you’re here,’” said Davis Brown of Watkinsville, Ga., who plans to pursue a business degree.


The Convocation keynote speaker was Kennesaw State’s own Travis Allen. While he is completing his business management degree at KSU, Allen continues to grow iSchool Initiative, the organization he founded to promote digital learning in classrooms.

Allen won the Google Young Minds competition in 2011 and was named the Georgia Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2015. He encouraged the first-year students “to find out what you can do to change the world” and to determine their answer to the question, “Why am I here?”

“I think it’s the most important question you can ask yourself as you begin your freshman year,” Allen said. “This is the best time to be a freshman at Kennesaw State University. The world around us is changing, and most people in the workforce are sweating because they don’t know how to invent the future — but that’s where you come in.”

Prior to Allen’s remarks, Student Government Association President Victoria Brock offered the newest Owls four pieces of advice: go to class, visit your professors during their office hours, get involved and make time for yourself.

“You’re now part of the family I’ve called home for three years,” Brock said. “I hope you do incredible things here. Go Owls and Hooty Hoo!”

To conclude the ceremony, Olens led the students in reciting the Owl Creed, a commitment to academic excellence and personal integrity that each member of the Kennesaw State community is expected to follow. Students were invited to sign poster-sized copies of the Owl Creed as they left the Convocation Center.

One of the students who arrived early enough to get a front-row seat for Convocation was Madison Langston of Menlo, Ga. — which was fitting considering how eager she was to officially become a KSU student. Langston said she fell in love with Kennesaw State when she toured the campus, and she had her bags packed a week in advance of moving into her on-campus suite on Friday.

“It didn’t take me long to decide this is where I wanted to be,” said Langston, who plans to major in math education and become a high school teacher. “I was so ready to get here. I love it.”


— Paul Floeckher

Photos by Lauren Kress


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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 43,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit