“Challenge your perspective.” That was the message that Virgil Miller, chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Cedric L. Richmond (D-La) spread in Lee Hall Auditorium Thursday, at Florida A&M’s annual Honors Convocation.
Honors Convocation is hosted once each semester to honor the academically outstanding students in each school at FAMU.
“I salute you students for your academic progress and leadership,” said Miller. The focus of his speech was to not only to congratulate the students on their current success but to also get them to challenge themselves to do more.
Miller addressed two issues that he held on his heart. The first was the Trayvon Martin case.
“I admit I do not know all the facts surrounding the issue of the death of this young man, however, I know enough to know that something ain’t right y’all,” said Miller. “There are some laws here in Florida that need to be revisited immediately.”
Since the birth of the “Stand Your Ground” law in 2005, it has faced in 93 cases and claimed the lives of 65 people.
The second issue was the death of Robert Champion. Miller and Champion shared a kinship; they were both FAMU drum majors.
“Sometimes we have to recount our struggles in order to remind ourselves that we have the courage and know how to survive,” said Miller. He reminded the audience that from these experiences everyone comes out much smarter and much stronger.
“One’s perspective has the ability to restrict ones life trajectory,” said Miller.
Matthew Stevens, a first-year education student from St. Petersburg, Fla., said “I’m not an honors student but Miller has inspired to me push myself and become one. Next semester it will be me in these seats being honored, all because I was up for the challenge.”
Perspective has the ability to determine our fate. Miller stressed to students and faculty that the people surrounding you with play a major role in challenging perspective. Friends and family expose people to opportunities and new ideas.
“So I take it upon myself this morning to challenge your perspective and in turn you will challenge FAMU’s perspective,” said Miller. He encouraged students to break new barriers and blaze new trails, and to stand tall. Once you challenge your perspective you have opened unimaginable doors to success.
“His speech really touched me, sometimes it gets hard maintaining academic excellence but I have to challenge myself to not give up,” said Deondra Ebbesen, a third-year nursing student from the Virgin Islands. “I’ve challenged my perspective I just hope the rest of the students here do to.”