Lakeland University Blog

2008 graduate returns to address Opening Convocation

2008 graduate returns to address Opening Convocation


2008 graduate returns to address Opening Convocation

When he arrived at Lakeland’s campus in 2003 to escape the drugs and violence of inner-city St. Louis, no one would have predicted that Kempton Freeman would one day return to address LU’s student body as part of his alma mater’s Opening Convocation.

Freeman, a 2008 Lakeland graduate who today serves as cultural advisor for the Appleton (Wis.) Area School District, delivered the keynote address Thursday as Lakeland celebrated the start of the 2021-22 academic year in the Bradley Theatre.

The first in his family to graduate from high school and college – and he is on track to add a master’s degree to his resume in May of 2022 – Freeman returned to Lakeland as an accomplished leader who is a strong advocate for racial justice, education and inclusivity.

“I’m still growing and learning every day,” Freeman said.

Lakeland has become a staple in his life, Freeman said, and the audience included members of his family and close friends he gained as a Lakeland student.

“Be thankful for your time here,” Freeman told the students. “Take your time and enjoy it. Cherish friendships and the bonds you will make here. Lakeland changed me in ways I never would have imagined.”

He encouraged students to get involved with athletics, clubs and organizations on campus, much like he did. And he closed with some practical advice for everyone:

  • Don’t imitate anyone.
  • Don’t hide who you want to be.
  • Push past your fears and doubts.
  • Time is not a luxury, so spend it wisely.
  • Love those who love you.

Freeman created the first Black History Month celebration for the Appleton School District, an event now in its fourth year. He’s also worked with Fox Valley city leaders on race relations and other topics.

Freeman draws from his own personal experiences, which include the murders of his father and brother, inner-city gangs, an environment of drugs and violence and academic struggles as he worked to discover where he fit into life outside of the inner-city.

In addition to his role with Appleton Schools, he owns Coach K Skill Sessions, a sport training company. He speaks to many classes, sport teams, teacher in-services and various other groups and organizations throughout Wisconsin.

Thursday’s event closed with President Beth Borgen giving the traditional charge to students to take care of themselves, each other and the campus. She reminded students that COVID-19 continues to pose a threat to the campus community and asked that everyone do their part by following Lakeland’s mitigation efforts.

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