A group of Robert Morris University Illinois incoming freshmen participated in a special orientation presentation last week.  Motivational speaker Tawan Perry explained how beginning college offers unique opportunities for students.  “It’s a new beginning for you,” he explained.  “You have a lot of time, but much to accomplish.  It’s your world.  I encourage you to step into it with a spirit of gratitude; be thankful for all you have and to all who have helped you reach this point.  Now it is up to you.”

The ice-breaker Perry used to get students a little more comfortable was an old-fashioned game of musical chairs.  As each student was eliminated, smiles, laughter and encouragement came more easily; students readily volunteered and focused on his stories.  The activities led up to an important question:

“What is your strategy going to be?”  he asked.  “It’s not as hard as you may think.  Intelligence does not guarantee your success, but perseverance is something else.  Remember, it is in your DNA to fail sometimes, but don’t forget to get back up.”

RMU faculty and staff participated in the session as well.  Perry recognized them as the people students must turn to whenever they need help.  “Show them you are serious and determined.  That’s going to make a difference.  They will help you succeed.”

Several of the students who participated in the session are recipients of RMU’s New ERA scholarship program.  Started with a $1.2 million gift from the Alter family, New ERA scholarships help ensure college graduation for 300 low-income African American students from the Chicago Public Schools over the next six years.

As a parting thought for the students who will begin classes on September 24, Tawan Perry wished them happiness and success in their new endeavor.

“Love yourself,” he encouraged.  “You are a miracle of the universe.”