LAURINBURG — St. Andrews University welcomed new and transfer students from 30 countries and 25 states during the annual Opening Convocation held Aug. 21.
The ceremony began with a procession of students from the DeTamble Library Terrace to the PE Center behind the St. Andrews University pipe band. The trek will repeat in reverse for the Commencement Ceremony, a symbolic bookend to the educational career highlighted by Campus President Paul Baldasare in his welcomed to the assembly.
“What happens between those bookends is your St. Andrews education,” Baldasare said. “A St. Andrews education prepares you to make a living and a life for yourself. It is a partnership between students, St. Andrews and families.”
Assistant Dean of Students Elizabeth Hernandez provided the students with some of the details of their portion of that partnership.
“You are here to learn about yourself and others,” she said. “Be passionate, be you, prepare to make a living and a life. Be a contributing member of this community. Volunteer. Take an art or poetry class, join a club, start a club, run for SGA. I challenge you to do something different, to grow, learn, and to discover who you are and why you are here.”
Student Government Association President Michael Iannuzzi presented his own challenge to the students.
“I present a challenge to all of you incoming freshmen and transfers to break out of your comfort zone and get involved in something you wouldn’t normally do,” he said. “Don’t let what you came here for define who you could be, St. Andrews can become a large room lined with many doors that lead to numerous opportunities.
“Every day is a new opportunity to grow not only inside the classroom but outside as well,” Iannuzzi added. “We as a student body make up the St. Andrews community, ad we ultimately reflect the potential of the university. I welcome you all to try and enjoy every moment you have here, the good times for all the joy and excitement you will share with friends, and the bad that will teach you valuable life lessons and make you stronger in the end.”
Dr. Mary Louise Bringle, professor of philosophy and religious studies at Brevard College and former St. Andrews professor, delivered the convocation address with the best selling book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum as a centering point.
“I am banking on Robert Fulghum being wrong,” Bringle said. “I am banking on the fact that there are things you sill need to learn, like discovering things about who you are and your vocation.”
Bringle focused on two stories from the book, one about a kindergarten class production of Cinderella with a barking pig and the other on the failures of Abraham Lincoln before he became president of the United States.
“Both these individuals had the tenacity to pursue their own vocation, unphased by those who told them they couldn’t get it done,” said Bringle. “As you prepare to go out to the real world, sometimes you will think that the plot of the story you are participating in is already written. At that point, you can do one of two things. One is you can get discouraged and give up. The second is to stand up on your hind legs and bark.”
Baldasare picked up the barking theme in his closing remarks.
“When I was a student here, we had a great tradition of students howling in the night,” he said. “As you leave hear, I hope to hear some barks along the way.”
This report was contributed by Melissa Hopkins, director of communications at St. Andrews University.