144th Founders' and Parents' Day
BSU Observes and Celebrates
By Bekah Oester
Bowie State University's 144th Founders' and Parent's Day program was held on April 19 in the Samuel L. Myers Auditorium. Many student groups took place in the event, including the ROTC; performances from the BSU Wind Ensemble, Gospel Choir, and Madrigal Singers; and a history of BSU given by selected students in the BSU honors program.
The event's keynote address was given by Maryland Congressman Elijah E. Cummings. Cummings recognized and thanked all involved in the event, from BSU faculty to BSU janitors. Professors and everyday workers are two groups important to Cummings, because he said he was the son of a laborer, and because he was a child labeled as special education who was told he would go nowhere, but because of faculty members who encouraged him and told him, "do not be afraid, stand up for what you believe in," he later graduated Phi Beta Kappa.
Cummings proceeded to announce that "the word is out that Bowie is on the move," and is getting greater. Instead of speaking to parents about historically black institutions, Cummings, a Howard graduate, made the decision to direct his words to the students even though it was parents' day. He advised students to be their best through developing themselves and remembering that they had been chosen.
Cummings told students that many of them would not succeed because they will fail to match their development with their destinies. "Where people fail too often is to develop themselves," he said, encouraging students to develop their skills in all areas of their lives, including tangible skills like reading and using computers, and also personal skills such as character. He noted that many men with promising futures failed because of character flaws, noting examples such as Bill Clinton and Eliot Spitzer. He challenged students to avoid this trap by asking themselves one question: "What is the enemy of my destiny?"
Cummings then cited a passage from the Bible where Jesus gives His disciples a reminder that it was He who chose them. Cummings used this to tell students, that they, too, are chosen. He noted that other people out in society are potentially better or smarter, but ended up in jail or worse situations. Students who are in school, he said, are there because they have been chosen, and it is important to recognize and remember that fact. He encouraged students who didn't understand the concept to consider where they are presently versus where they could be otherwise if they hadn't been chosen. He told the students that they were all at BSU for a reason, and advised them to "never forget from whence you came."
Cummings ended his speech, acknowledging that "I know this is not the speech you expected, but I said what I wanted to say." He also noted that "words can develop into action," and encouraged students to go out and act like chosen students through leadership.
After Cumming's speech, BSU took some time to recognize two students who passed this semester: Gilbert Williams and Marissa Thomas. Representatives for each student were given a plaque from BSU in their honor. Both students have memorial scholarship funds in the works for future students.
The ceremony ended with a benediction from Reverend Robert Wingfield of Woodstream Church, the singing of the alma mater led by BSU's Madrigal Singers, and the retiring of the colors. A recessional was then played, and all were dismissed to enjoy refreshments.