Journalist Arianna Huffington shared her political beliefs and urged students to vote for Barack Obama during her speech as Givens Performing Arts Center’s (GPAC) first Distinguished Speaker of the season Sept. 23.

“If people still think Obama is a Muslim, just leave them alone,” Huffington said while making a point that fear is currently America’s worst enemy.

She gave examples of Obama’s plans that make him the best candidate, such as his tax cut plan that will apply to all citizens making less than $150,000 per year.

Huffington called the Republican Party a party of deregulation.  She said if Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin were elected this Nov., “we would be fighting the battles we have already passed while [Palin] was shooting caribou.”

Huffington also took aim at President Bush and his current administration.

“The problem starts when people claim to know what God’s will is,” she said.  

In addition to politics, Huffington gave insight into her view on the role of reporters.  She said she disagrees with mainstream media who think their job is to report all the sides of a story.

“Fair news is a deception,” Huffington said, “sometimes truth is not in the middle, but on one side or another.”

Using the old debate that Earth is flat as an example, Huffington pointed out that the truth was not in the middle, but whether on the side of one extremity.

“Unless a scientist is paid by Exxon, they believe in global warming,” Huffington said.

Huffington took approximately one hour after her speech answering questions from the audience, and signing autographs and taking pictures with fans.

Huffington is the co-founder of the online liberal news website and blog The Huffington Post.

 

Booths and tables lined the rectangular brick path around the Quad on Wednesday, September 10 in an effort to bring the University of North Carolina at Pembroke (UNCP) and Robeson County closer together.  The casual event’s theme was “Food, Fun and Festivities.”  Church groups and religious organizations had a presence at Pembroke Day, and some had more than free food, fun and festivities on their agenda.

The Gideon Ministries booth was setup at the southeast corner of the Quad, to itself, catching many visitors to the festival as they were either leaving or just arriving.  Their table was very simple in design; just a few boxes of green and orange Bibles stacked on top, and a poster displaying their organization’s name hung over the front of the table.  Joseph Locklear, the booth’s operator and graduate of UNCP, said the Gideons are not affiliated with any specific religious group, but are “just passing out the word.”

According to Locklear, the Gideons give out one million Bibles worldwide every six days, and as of 12:00 p.m., he said he had handed out close to 400.  Locklear said their Bibles are printed in 86 languages and passed out by their members and volunteers in 186 countries; in prisons, jails, and hotels.  He said the money from donations they receive goes to purchasing more Bibles.

Locklear said “The students have been very receptive,” and “[he] may come back next year.”  It was Locklear’s first time attending Pembroke Day.

While Locklear and the Gideons were only focused on passing out bibles to the crowd, Diana Price, a member of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Lumberton, NC was busy networking with students.  The church had a booth setup on the opposite end of the Quad, just beside the Lowry Bell Tower, and was promoting the Lutheran Campus Ministry (LCM).  Price, along with St. Mark’s is in the process of setting up the LCM at UNCP and said, “We just want [students] to have an alternative to the Baptist Student Union (BSU)…not that there is anything wrong with [the BSU]; that’s great.”

As of 11:30 a.m. Price said she had collected the names, email addresses, and phone numbers of 18 interested students.  She said the organization held its first meeting three weeks ago, and hope to bring in new members so the ministry can be entirely led by students.  Eventually, they hope to complete service projects around the community.

Price, along with another St. Mark’s member, Maxine Amos, also handed out fliers for a September 11th remembrance service they held Thursday night in the University Center, sponsored by the LCM.

 

A student’s freshman year can be vital to their success in college.  With this in mind, the University of North Carolina at Pembroke (UNCP) takes a proactive approach in making its new students and faculty feel welcome at UNCP.

Each year, the university holds Convocation during the first couple weeks of school to mark the beginning of a new school year.  While all students are encouraged to attend, freshmen are a primary focus in hopes to reiterate the importance of these new students achieving goals by earning the best possible grades while in school.

Upon entering the Givens Performing Arts Center (GPAC) on the morning of Wednesday, August 27th, one would not initially notice anything out of the ordinary for a college or public assembly.  GPAC has acoustics in place for all types of events, from guest speakers like Nancy Grace and Nikki Giovanni, to Broadway shows such as Hairspray and Thoroughly Modern Millie.  Usually, GPAC has a hushed, quiet atmosphere despite the crowds that inhabit it, yet this day the entire building was filled with an almost offensive roar of unidentifiable conversations, laughter, and cell phones.

Shortly after the program began, it became clear that two groups of people were attending: those who wanted to be there and those who didn’t.  Faculty, staff and a few upper upperclassmen were mature throughout the hour long event, but a majority of the freshmen attending were more tuned into their iPods and cell phones than the motivational assembly.

One freshmen, Rachel Johnson, 18, a resident student from Lumberton, North Carolina was both alert and delighted to attend.  She said she was required to attend the convocation for her Freshman Seminar course, but was happy to do so because she “had never been to [convocation] before, and didn’t know what to expect.”

Johnson says she noticed the general disinterest and chatter among many of her fellow classmates around her that morning, but when guest speaker, Andrea Mosby-Jones started speaking, “it was like someone cleared the air and people started to enjoy it.”  Rachel and her friends compared the speech and the event as a whole to the professionalism of the convocation to their high school graduation ceremony.

Despite Johnson’s biggest distraction, the lady signing for the hearing impaired, Rachel was also inspired.  She “immensely enjoy[ed]” the main guest speaker, Andrea Mosby-Jones, and said she related directly with the message of making good, sound decisions because she “sometimes let[s] fear of the unknown stand between me and something I want or wish to do.”

Johnson said she felt proud to be a member of the diverse population at UNCP after attending the convocation.

Johnson took away from the convocation exactly what UNCP intended for her to; a sense of belonging at the university, and confidence to succeed in all her endeavors in life.  Johnson said from here out she plans to “push past the fear,” and “not let [other] people decide…how [she] will live [her] life.”

Many students change their minds about what they want to do in life at least once during college.  Juniors typically spend their third year finishing up general education requirements and finalizing their concentration decision or major.  Few are as well focused and certain about their future as 19 year old Journalism Major Kayla Pearson, a Junior at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke (UNCP).

Pearson is originally from Jacksonville, but calls Greensboro, North Carolina home.  During the school year, she resides on campus at UNCP’s Village Apartments.

Pearson says she has always liked to write.  She began realizing her potential in the eight grade, when she was on the school’s newspaper staff.

She was first introduced to the idea of attending UNCP by a close friend whose concentration is also in Journalism.  Pearson says she was skeptical about the school at first, but really liked the idea of learning “somewhere small.”  After visiting the campus, she fell in love with it.

However, Pearson would likely succeed despite the school she attends.  As a full-time Honors College student, she maintains a challenging schedule at UNCP.  Her extracurricular involvement includes Assistant News Editor of the school’s Pine Needle Newspaper “Around the Town” section, and the Student Government Association (SGA), for which she serves as Senator and has recently been developing a new constitution.

Her inspirations include writers of the Harlem Renaissance such as Langston Hughes, and poet and writer Nikki Giovanni.

Pearson says rather than complaining about having nothing to do in the small rural town of Pembroke, she keeps busy with multiple activities.  In doing so, she meets many new people and has a chance to gain experience and knowledge in different areas, preventing her from becoming bored or tired of Pembroke.

Kayla has a fun and playful side as well.  When asked what keeps her going, without hesitation she jokingly replies “the weekends!”

She also shared the humorous story of how she got her nickname.  When in Freshman Orientation for UNCP, her glasses would fog up when entering the cool air-conditioned buildings after being out in the hot August sun.  Kayla’s friends dubbed her “Foggy,” and the name still lingers today.

Though Pearson is a well-rounded student, she has a set of goals for the future.  While she hasn’t decided on a specific career path, she does intend to continue her education with a Masters degree in Mass Communication at a larger school such as The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, or possibly Columbia University in New York.  She says she has always thought it would be great to attend an Ivy League school.

Other long term dreams of hers include eventually obtaining a doctorate degree, writing a book, and winning the Nobel Peace Prize.  As for her career, Pearson is considering the magazine industry, specifically either a local or community magazine, or either a fashion magazine with more of an urban twist.  She says she has also thought about doing legal work.

At some point, Kayla wants to travel to Spain.  She has always wanted to learn to speak fluent Spanish too, she says.

Kayla Pearson says she has no regrets because “everything happens for a reason.”  She knows what she wants from life, and isn’t afraid to go for it.

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