On Friday, Sept. 15, 2006, Mills women and guests crowded into the Concert Hall to witness the 2006-2007 school year’s kickoff, the annual tradition known as Convocation.
Convocation is an annual event taking place every fall at Mills. This year’s featured speaker was Mills alumna Renel Brooks-Moon, who is a local radio personality and the voice of the San Francisco Giants.
Sophomore Rebecca Townsend said, “It’s part of going to Mills. I am excited about this year’s speaker, because I think it’s so cool, I’m a sucker for traditions and ceremony.”
Sophomore Lola McCall said, “I went last year and it was really community building; I thought I’d go this year too.”
Mary-Ann Milford, provost and dean of the Faculty said that after attending convocation for 25 years, “this is the most exciting convocation.”
President Janet Holmgren began her speech by reflecting on Convocation 2001, which took place only days after the attacks of Sept. 11. A number of speakers and guests could not attend convocation because of the attacks, but the school decided to hold the annual ceremony anyway.
President Holmgren introduced Brooks-Moon as “a quintessential Mills woman.” Brooks-Moon was a co-founder of Mills Black Women’s Collective and first African-American Woman to announce for a professional sports team.
“When I was asked to speak for Mills I looked around for Ashton Kutcher, I thought I was being punked!” a reference to MTV television show Punk’d. Brooks-Moon acknowledged that although she has spoken before thousands, this was the “biggest speech of her career.” During her address to the seniors she said, “For many of you, it will be difficult as forces of evil will try to throw you off in your game, via unfortunate instances, circumstances.”
In a serious tone she declared, “You are on your way to finding yourselves,” and asked students to “acknowledge the enormity of your tasks before you.” She acknowledged the importance of asking for “what you need and want.” While welcoming the youths’ self-reliance, Brooks-Moon warned against being afraid to ask others for help.
There was emotion in her voice as she expressed her value and appreciation for her mentor, Mills professor Daphne Muse, whom she described as brilliant, compassionate and one of the reasons for her educational success.
In addition to President Holmgren and Brooks-Moon, provost Milford, Thomasina Woida, the outgoing president of the Alumnae Foundation, Nikki Tenneson King and McClelland, alumnae from the class of ’56, the co-presidents of the ASMC and Erika Macs, Director of Spiritual and Religious Life, addressed the crowd.
After the ceremony, sophomore Txhuj Ci Xiong said, “all of the speakers were very powerful, it really inspired me, I just wanted to meet them and shake their hands.”
Juanita Brooks, Brooks-Moon’s mother, said, “It was marvelous, it was wonderful, I think my daughter did a great job!”
When asked about her thoughts on convocation, Brooks-Moon said, “it was extraordinary, it brings back a lot of emotions, I was energized by the progress of the faculty and staff. To see all those wonderful, smiling faces as I looked out there, I tried to hug as many of them as I could. I wanted them to feel my heart, I wanted to bless each one of them and encourage them. You just want them to know that you can do anything you want!”