Pastor Al Leonard 7W8, founder of the Abundant Life Church of God in Germantown, Md., speaking to the seniors in his keynote address at the 130th Convocation on Sept. 9, said “Nothing will bring you more gratitude than serving those less fortunate, don’t squander this opportunity.”
Leonard, who studied masonry at Williamson, said “It’s been 42 years since I was sitting where you are now sitting. You guys have the opportunity of a lifetime. Williamson offered me an opportunity that changed my life forever. This opportunity taught me what is was to be tough, to operate with integrity. It taught me things that have stood the test of time, but how to be flexible at the same time.”
“You seniors, in a few months will be graduates and will be in a world that is changing every day. This institution still believes in teaching principles that are founded on the Word. They will carry you all through your life.”
Leonard told the seniors sitting in the chapel, with the juniors and freshmen watching on computers in their rooms as the talk was live streamed, that when the coronavirus pandemic started we learned what was essential. “When things shut down and were locked down, the only people who could move around were those deemed essential. What we need in this world is something that lasts forever that will take us to eternity.”
He said Jesus had the ability to lead people to their destiny and encourage people to do things they thought they couldn’t do and that is what leadership is, giving others the power to succeed.
“The principles you are getting here at Williamson will help you meet the challenges that society has put in front of us. Jesus said if you can’t carry your burden, cast them on Him. Pick up the book and read it, you will find that faith will carry you the rest of your life.”
He closed saying, “I stand before you as a graduate. After I left Williamson, I gave my life to service. It is not always about money. I encourage you to give back. I left here and became a worship leader, then a pastor, and then founded a church, all while working full-time. Nothing will bring you more gratitude than serving the less fortunate. Don’t squander this opportunity. Companies want you because of what this school stands for and believes in.”
At the conclusion of his remarks, President Michael Rounds presented him with a keepsake wooden box with a rendering of Rowan Hall on the lid.
In his greetings, Rounds, who is beginning his eighth year as president, told the students that he is excited to have them back on campus after being away since March 13 because of the coronavius pandemic. “As we launch our new school year I have to say that it is not a normal year. We are doing things differently. We are taking temperature checks at lineup, only one class can sit in the chapel while the others watch on their computers, we are all wearing masks and keeping the community safe while we continue school.”
“We spent countless hours planning how to make this work. We felt it was important to have you back on campus. If anyone can do it, Williamson can. We have the right team and the right students who understand the seriousness of the matter and doing what is right to keep each other safe.”
Rounds also spoke of Matt Munafo, a junior machinist who was injured in a traffic accident that was not his fault over the summer. He was seriously injured and was in a coma for awhile. “He is progressing and passes his good wishes on to his classmates. We hope in the future he can return and complete his education.”
In her welcoming remarks, Dr. Michelle Williams, vice president of academic affairs, said to the seniors, “You have made it to your senior year. This is something to be proud of. You made it through hard work and diligence. Now you will take it to the next level of your field. You are indeed leaders.”
“Success does not come to you, you go to it. Embrace every day by making each day count and making it successful by living the core values. If you embrace each moment of the year by doing the work and enjoying the rewards and the challenges you will be successful Williamson Men.”
Other parts of Convocation included Chaplain Mark Specht 7W7 giving the invocation and benediction; Sean Howat, assistant to the chaplain, giving the responsorial psalm and leading the pledge of allegiance; Jack Becker, president of the Class of 2W1, reading scripture; and the Artisans leading the audience in the singing of the alma mater.