Convocation speaker: Focus, faith leads to big transformation

J. Quenton Cooper/Courtbouillon
Arlanda Williams

NEW ORLEANS (April 13, 2018) – Get out of your cocoon and blossom into a buttlerfly, the speaker for Honors Convocation advised students March 20 in Lawless Chapel.

Arlanda Williams, vice chancellor for workforce development and institutional advancement at Delgado Community College and a District 2 councilwoman in Terrebonne Parish, told honor students, faculty and parents that “your faith, focus and finish” will help students move from being a “disgusting, gross and ugly” caterpillar.

“Swallow your pride and go to that math tutor,” she urged. “A caterpillar, in order to get to the next step, has to digest himself, which means you have to swallow your pride…Digest yourself to become a butterfly.”

Williams suggested students reject the thought of giving up and asking, “Why am I in school? I don’t need this.”

 She said, “That’s a lie! That’s a set-up to destroy you because when you’re in that cocoon is when you’re recognizing, ‘I’m here for a purpose: I was designed for this. I was made for this, I don’t care how many balls are thrown at me, I’m going to step aside because I’m going to keep my hands on the block and my eyes on the prize.’ ”

She recalled the story of the Three Little Pigs and urged students to build on a strong foundation of faith and “sheer audacity” so that when “the big, bad wolf of suppression, oppression, teen-age pregnancy comes, you can say, ‘Move out of my way.’ ”

Williams got the loudest applause when she quoted Scripture.

“You’re here because God wanted you to be here. You’re here because although family, friends, cousins, and not-so-good friends might not think you should be here, Jeremiah 29:11 says, ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ ”

She added, “That’s why you all are sitting here as honor students at this esteemed university.”

Tevon Blair, Student Government Association president and a Thompson Cook Scholar, introduced Williams. The Daniel Thompson/ Samuel DuBois Cook Honors Program is dedicated to Dr. Daniel C. Thompson, a longtime staple at Dillard University beginning in 1945. Thompson served as a professor of sociology, chair of the social science division and vice president of academic affairs.

Dr. Samuel DuBois Cook led Dillard University as president from 1974-1997. He was the first African American professor to teach at Duke University and the first African American to hold a regular faculty appointment at any predominantly white college in the South.

Williams, of Houma, is past president of the National Association of Democratic Officials and she is in her third term.