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New Smithites Stampede Campus for Golden Bull Academy

President Armbrister talking at Golden Bull Academy

CHARLOTTE, N.C. / July 15, 2022 – More than 80 students and their families traveled to Johnson C. Smith University July 15 for the kickoff of the second Golden Bull Academy of the summer. 

Golden Bull Academy is JCSU’s new student orientation. The two-day experience focuses on educating students about campus policies and services while guiding them through other various aspects of college life. 

Ja’Niya Gilmore, an incoming Business Management student from Columbia, S.C., attended with her mother and father, Katrina and George Coles III. 

“It’s been great so far,” she said. “I’m ready to meet new friends and learn the campus. 

Katrina and George said the staff of Golden Bull Academy had been really helpful and friendly, taking extra care to make sure everything and everyone was accessible. 

“Knowing that this is a real family environment and everyone is helpful, I’m feeling more comfortable leaving her here to study,” said Katrina. 

“I like how people haven’t sent us here or there to get help,” added George. “If they can help you, they’re going to help you on the spot. I’m anxious to see the woman my daughter will become here over the next four years. It’s exciting to me!” 

Dr. Davida Haywood ’98, vice president of Student Affairs, said Golden Bull Academy gives students the opportunity to really understand the campus they’ll be coming to in the fall. 

“At the end of the day, we want them to get acclimated to campus,” she said. “We want to ensure they’re making a smooth transition not only into the academic experience, or in the classroom, but also the co-curricular, or outside of the classroom experience. We want them to learn how they can get involved, learn where buildings are and make connections between the names and faces of the people they’ve heard from over the past few months.” 

Johnson C. Smith University is unlike many institutions in that it hosts several of its orientation sessions throughout the summer. The first session was held June 24 to 26, and there is another session planned for Aug. 11 and 12. 

The sessions begin with a welcome from campus dignitaries, including JCSU President Clarence D. Armbrister. 

“When you leave JCSU, you will be able to demonstrate not only that you are competent, but excellent at everything you do,” said Armbrister. “Make meaningful moments. I think you’re going to have a wonderful opportunity here at Johnson C. Smith University.” 

Various informational sessions lead up to a game night and other fun events throughout the weekend. The small orientation size allows for students to mingle with their future classmates and learn about campus services they will likely utilize during their time as a student. 

“I think breaking it up allows for a much more intimate experience so you don’t feel like you’re just a number,” said Haywood. “You can be sitting in a session and the presenter might not know you 

immediately by name, but they can make eye contact and tell you where their office is located. If you’re sitting in a room with 500 other folks, there may be things you miss.” 

Although the sessions are smaller, students and their families are still provided with a ton of information to help them with the transition. Haywood said a new app called Guidebook will help Smithite families find important information long after orientation weekend ends, even if they forget! 

The app, which can be downloaded on Google Play and the App Store, contains frequent University contacts, information about campus services and even orientation presentations. 

Haywood said the app not only can be used to notify and update students and their families in real time, but it will also serve as a one-stop information hub that can be accessed anywhere at any time of day. 

At the end of the weekend, Haywood’s goal is that parents walk away confident that their student will shine at JCSU. 

“We really want to ensure parents and caretakers that, one, they and their child have made an excellent selection in choosing Johnson C. Smith, but also that their child will do great things here,” she said. “Golden Bull Academy, move-in day and graduation are all sobering but joyful days. We acknowledge the struggles students go through to be here and graduate, and we know their stories. If anything, that is a big reason why we do this program.”

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