By Sholnn Z. Freeman
Howard University students, staff, and faculty got to relax and take deep breaths with President Ben Vinson III, Ph.D., days ahead of his formal inauguration as the University’s 18th president.
As part of a week-long series of inauguration events, the University held a yoga session on the Yard to introduce Vinson to more members of the Howard community. The event was held in partnership with FITDC, a city-wide health and fitness initiative led by the District of Columbia. At the event, a yoga instructor led attendees of the class through tree poses, high lunges, softly pressed everyone to sit a little deeper in the chair pose.
“I liked the part where we inhaled and looked high up into the sky,” said Jacqueline Young, a program manager in the Office of the Provost who has worked at the University for 24 years.
Young, who works in the Office of the Provost, said she looks forward to executing the vision that Vinson has begun to lay out to improve the University’s future.
“He seems to be a great man,” Young said. “I like what he is saying about taking Howard University to ‘maximum strength.’ That’s exactly what we need. We are very strong in many areas, but maximizing it means we are aiming to be the very best at everything we are trying to accomplish – and being intentional about it.”
Finance seniors Joshua Bredwood and Brandon Langmia joined the yoga activities when Vinson approached them to join the group as they walked across the Yard.
“I like the enthusiasm,” Bredwood said. “He pointed me out and asked me to come over. I don’t know him that well, but I like the energy.”
Langmia said it was good to see the president on the Yard and getting a chance to chat with him.
“We’re young and we’re seniors now,” Langmia said. “We are going to be alumni soon. Seeing the president out and being engaged – you can’t get enough of that.”
Thennie Freeman, acting director of the D.C. Parks and Recreation who helped mobilize FITDC for the yoga event, said she wanted students on campus to keep in mind Howard University’s unique and important place in the city’s culture and history.
Freeman has family connections to Howard University. Her daughter is a student in the College of Arts and Sciences, and her mother graduated from the School of Social Work.
“What I saw in my mother and Howard University was a consistent striving for excellence,” she said. “My mother was tenacious. She commuted to Howard from Roanoke, Virginia. It was a four-hour drive. She would leave the house very early and come back late at night.”
She said she met Vinson at the Truth and Service Classic football game in September.
“I thought he was ready,” Freeman said, referring to Vinson’s enthusiasm. “I got the impression that he was unwavering and extremely confident.”