By ADD SEYMOUR JR. — Jermal Murray didn’t have any idea what to expect when he arrived at Morehouse for New Student Orientation (NSO) on Aug. 12. The sight of upperclassmen helping first-year and transfer students get settled made a potentially unnerving situation comfortable.
Not only for him, but for his nervous single mom, Sheila Murray.
“When you don’t have that father figure, sometimes it’s a little hard,” she said. “But I see people who are supportive and want to help out, give a hand and ask what can they do to help. That makes me feel good. That makes me feel that he’s going to have someone there for him, as well as I’ll have someone there for me.”
That Morehouse spirit of brotherhood was just one of the things that put smiles on the faces of parents, families, friends and new students as they arrived to begin their Morehouse journey. New Student Orientation is a tradition-filled three days of learning about what it means to become a man of Morehouse.
The nearly 700 new and transfer students come from as close as College Park and as far away as Africa. All will be taken care of as if they were his own sons, said Garikai Campbell, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, during the NSO Opening Assembly.
“When I tell you ‘I love you,’ it’s not protect and shield,” he said. “It’s with high expectations. I know I speak for the president, for folks in Student Services, all the staff, when I say that this place is all about loving you.”
On the final night of the parents’ portion of NSO, the new men of Morehouse lined up in the middle of campus, wearing crisp white shirts and maroon ties. They then proudly marched into the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel, where President John Silvanus Wilson Jr. ’79 told parents that it was time for Mother Morehouse to take over.
“In order for these young gentlemen to learn self-reliance and to be sent like arrows, swift and far, you, the guardians and parents, must depart,” Wilson said. “Fathers and mothers must separate from their sons, temporarily, so our freshmen may learn the crown values of the candle vocation, the beloved world community, international justice, nonviolence and moral rectitude. This is the Morehouse way for preparing your sons to be reintegrated back into a society yearning for responsible and responsive leadership.”
By the end of the evening, the newest men of Morehouse marched through the campus’ gates, which were shut behind them, separating them from tearful families.
Kyle Evans, a freshman business management major from Dallas, Texas, hugged his crying grandmother, Cynthia Lee, shortly after the ceremony ended.
“People tell me all the time that they are proud of me,” he said. “But when you see the tears, you really know that people want to see you do great things. It means I can’t fail.”
“He’s going to do big things,” his grandmother said. “He’s going to make us proud. He already has by being here.”