The Student News Site of Macalester College

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The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

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After a procession of flags, bagpipes and even a mime, Macalester welcomed students, faculty and staff back to campus last Thursday, Sept. at the 2023 Opening Convocation in the Leonard Center. The event, previously known as First Thursday, marks the start of the academic year and is the first school-wide event for new students. This year, Opening Convocation featured keynote speaker Brian Lozenski, associate professor of urban and multicultural education, and highlighted the life and career of Leona Tate, who received an honorary degree from Macalester. 

In 1960, Tate became one of the first Black children to desegregate a public school when she, along with fellow students Gail Etienne and Tessie Provost, attended McDonogh 19 Elementary School in New Orleans. In 2009, she established the Leona Tate Foundation for Change, which is dedicated to preserving the stories of the civil rights movement as well as promoting racial equality. She has been working with Macalester and teaching Macalester College Bonner Scholars about school integration since 2013. President Rivera, who conferred the degree, praised Tate’s commitment to civil rights.

“Today, we honor you [Tate] for your abiding activism and leadership — and for the countless people you have inspired to take action to build a more just world,” Rivera said. 

After presenting Tate’s degree, Rivera introduced Lozenski, who is also chair of the educational studies department. Lozenski focused his speech on the difference between “school” and “education” and what Macalester students will take away from their four years. Lozenski likened “school” to the mechanics of classrooms, tests, papers and grades, while defining “education” as the actual knowledge and learning one acquires.

“One of the major things we try to teach here in educational studies is to try to understand the meta conditions that frame education,” Lozenski said. “We can all be here at Macalester, and some of us are going to school while others are being educated. Which one’s happening for you?” 

Lozenski then encouraged students to find their own “education” at Macalester.

“Talk to the staff, talk to faculty, talk to your friends,” Lozenski said. “Dare to confront the world outside this campus. Dare to take a risk and explore something that feels too challenging. Don’t go to class because you want to, go to class because you have to. Because you need to.”

Macalester College Student Government President Mariah Loeffler-Kemp ’24 also spoke at Opening Convocation. In her speech, she urged students to take advantage of the opportunities they are afforded here. 

“I know Macalester has its hiccups sometimes, but when you put it into perspective, we are all so lucky to be here and to be here together,” Loeffler-Kemp said. “Which is why we need to make the most of our time that we get to have here, to build friendships with our classmates, to learn from our professors, and to gain insight from our staff, to be able to build real lasting relationships within this community and to build a community in which people like all of us belong.”

As is Macalester tradition, Opening Convocation ended with a prayer for peace, delivered by Nokwanda Matse ’26, Basir Talayee ’24 and Dallas Watson ’26. A picnic lunch on Shaw Field followed the convocation.

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Maddie Heinz, Editor-in-Chief
Maddie Heinz '24 is the Editor-in-Chief, from Stillwater, MN. She is a political science and English double major. She spends most of her time doing improv, and the rest of her time thinking about improv. She'd like to thank her cat Maverick for his endless support.

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