A cold morning gave away to warm skies on March 26, 2008 as staff at Florida A&M University prepared for the annual Honors Day Convocation which pays tribute to FAMU’s 2007-2008 honor students. The featured keynote speaker was FAMU alumnus Bernard Kinsey.
Kinsey is also president of KBK Enterprises, a management-consulting firm. He is a recognized expert and leader in the field of urban revitalization and economic development and has counseled the governments of South Africa, Germany, England, Israel and France.
The program opened with a procession of FAMU’s brightest led by faculty from each of FAMU’s colleges, schools and institutes. The Lee Hall Auditorium was full of students, staff and faculty who sat in anticipation as Mellori Lumpkin, president of FAMU’s the 36th Student Senate, extended greetings and gave the occasion.
Herron Gaston, a senior political science honors student, had the honor of introducing the event’s speaker. Following the introduction, the FAMU band wowed the audience with a moving rendition of Imbizo.
Suddenly the crowd’s demeanor shifted from an attentive silence to joyous cheers as Kinsey stood from his seat and moved towards the podium with a bright smile and a warm wave to the crowd.
“Gazelles wake up everyday and know that they have to be able to outrun the quickest lion,” Kinsey explained. “Lions waking up knowing that that have to be able to catch up to the slowest gazelle. What’s the point of this? The point is, that it doesn’t matter if you’re the lion or gazelle, you better wake up running.”
Kinsey stressed to the students being honored for their achievement to continue to be active citizens and reach for their dreams.
A former member of FAMU’s Marching 100, Kinsey spoke of how proud he was to watch the Marching 100 perform with Kanye West and Jamie Foxx at the Grammy and with Prince for the Super Bowl XLI halftime show. Kinsey said that while he has maintained a growing love for music, the opportunity to give back is something he loves even more.
“To whom much is given, much is required,” he said. “Being able to see students come to this prestigious university and graduate to go on and become lawyers and doctors, and know that they did that with your help, will just fill you up.”
Kinsey stressed to the audience the importance of understanding that no one gets a head start with life, and explained that “you either do it right or not.” He explained that the dash on the tombstone separating the date of birth and death is the most significant. Kinsey said the dash represents all your accomplishments and fulfilled dreams and that it is up to the individual to chase their dreams.
In closing, Kinsey informed the audience that “there are three types of people in the world; those that make things happen, those that watch things happen and those that simply aren’t aware of anything and thus don’t act at all. Let’s try our best to not be the two latter.”
After Kinsey’s words of encouragement, deans from FAMU’s colleges and schools recognized each student with a 4.0 GPA and presented two students from each college and school with an outstanding student award.
Azryana Campbell, a freshmen bio-medical engineering student, said she found the convocation to be enlightening.
“I was very impressed with the speaker’s message and the band’s performance was outstanding,” she smiled. “Being an honor student and attending Honors Convocation is something I plan on doing as long as I’m at FAMU.”