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Convocation 2019 | New students encouraged to ‘go out there and explore things’ and maximize their college experience

Faculty, staff, alumni and student leaders provide words of wisdom to freshmen

Steve Jones

Spalding University’s new freshmen were encouraged to get involved and make the most of their college experience during Thursday’s annual Convocation ceremony for first-year students at the Columbia Gym Auditorium.

The entire new freshman class gathered to hear words of advice and encouragement from Spalding Board of Trustees Chair Jim Rissler, Undergraduate Education Dean Dr. Tomarra Adams, Psychology Professor Dr. Steven Kniffley, alumna Chrystal Hawkins, Student Government Association President Haley Nestor, student leader Victor Edwards, University President Tori Murden McClure and adviser Jimmy Rowland.

They were given an explanation of the Spalding mission statement, and McClure presented each freshman with a mission coin to serve as a reminder of the importance of diversity, learning, spirituality, service, peace and justice at the institution. Years from now, when the same students graduate, they’ll be encouraged to give the coin to a person who influenced them and helped them on their college journey.

Nestor, a junior, said she has felt drawn to Spalding’s mission and sense of community since she began college.

“I strive to have the success that men and women from Spalding have had in previous years,” she said. “I share in being spiritually grounded in my everyday tasks, and I take huge pride in wearing ‘Spalding University’ across my chest when I’m off campus or going through the finish line at a cross country meet when I can’t breathe. So my question to you is, ‘How will you live it, share it and take pride in being a Golden Eagle?'”

Edwards said he had no idea what to expect when he moved from Florida to Spalding his freshman year, but he made a point on taking on new responsibilities and experiencing new things, including volunteering for a nonprofit, taking difficult courses outside his major, and becoming a residence hall adviser.

“I want you to notice opportunities that come up for you as a college student and take a leap of faith and decide to say yes to some of those opportunities,” he said.

Tanner Dewitt, a freshman secondary education major from Hancock County High School, said Edwards’ message stood out to him.

“It was really motivating,” Dewitt said. “He told us to go out there and explore things, not just go with our usual routine and go to classes and go back to the dorms and study but to also get involved with stuff, different clubs and activities. (Convocation) motivated me to do that as well as to learn more about the community, enjoy it and learn from my mistakes while I’m here.”

Jillian Moorefield, a criminal justice studies major from Indiana’s Floyd Central High School, had a similar takeaway from Convocation.

“I think the main message that I found interesting was getting involved in things you’re uncomfortable with,” she said. “That’s something that my dad has always told me, ‘Get involved, and push your boundaries so that you can better yourself.'”