Rutgers-Camden holds new tradition to welcome students old and new

Rutgers University-Camden holds first ever convocation to welcome back students, staff, faculty and administrators.

A sign welcomes Rutgers University-Camden students back to campus on Sept. 8, 2022. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

A sign welcomes Rutgers University-Camden students back to campus on Sept. 8, 2022. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Rutgers University’s New Brunswick campus has one, as does the Newark location.

As of Thursday afternoon, Rutgers University Camden will join them in hosting a convocation to kick off the new academic year. It’s a new tradition that’s being started by Chancellor Antonio Tillis, who took the helm of the school last year.

“Convocation is a way for the community to come together to kick off the beginning of a new academic year,” he said. “It’s a way of bringing faculty, staff, returning students, new students together in this joyous occasion in order to start … the new academic year.”

Rutgers University-Camden Chancellor Antonio Tillis thanked organizers at the convocation on Sept. 8, 2022. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)
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When he learned that Rutgers-Camden didn’t have anything like the convocation, he asked, “why not?”

“It’s a time to showcase our amazing students, our amazing faculty and staff,” he added.

Christian De Los Santos, Rutgers University-Camden class of 2024, lead students and staff through the Raptor’s Call, at convocation on Sept. 8, 2022. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Among the students who were featured during the event, the university’s gospel choir and the AKA step and stroll team. The house band, featuring students, was led by JoJo Streater, a music lecturer. The band played “Celebration” at the request of Tillis before he began his remarks to set the theme.

His remarks to students during the program centered on the Chinese proverb, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

The Rutgers University-Camden Gospel Choir performed at the school’s convocation on Sept. 8, 2022. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

“Whether you’ve traveled to Rutgers-Camden from near or far, you have all taken the first step of that journey,” he said. “During this academic year and beyond, you will travel a thousand miles intellectually, socially towards opportunities to make an impact in the world.”

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Tillis, overall, said he wanted to impart two messages to the audience, “welcome home” and “that Rutgers-Camden is theirs.”

The audience also heard from Jochebed Peace Airede, an international student from Nigeria who shared her experience of when she first came to the campus in August 2021 and how Rutgers-Camden “has indeed been my oyster.”

Dr. Jamille Nagtalon-Ramos, Assistant Professor of Nursing at Rutgers University, spoke to students about her love of Rutgers at convocation on Sept. 8, 2022. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

“I was in a strange land where everyone over pronounced their R’s, where everyone said tank tops instead of camisoles, and where people played soccer instead of football,” she said. “I will always remember that Rutgers-Camden had given me a chance when few other universities had.”

After the speeches, the Sixers Stixers drumline, led everyone to the courtyard, where there were tables, food and a DJ spinning the tunes.

The 76ers Drumline lead students to a convocation party at Rutgers University-Camden in Sept. 8, 2022. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

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