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Spalding convocation ushers in new class of students

President Tori Murden McClure encourages Spalding freshmen to find mentors.

Steve Jones

A few weeks into their lives as college students, Spalding University freshmen were given a greater sense about the mission of their new school and their importance in contributing to that common cause at Convocation.

On Sept. 6, the entire freshman class attended Spalding’s third annual Convocation ceremony at the University Center Auditorium. The first-year students were officially welcomed to campus and given advice from administrators and current and former students.

Spalding President Tori Murden McClure presented each first-year student with a coin engraved with key words from the university mission statement: diversity, learners, spirituality, service, peace and justice.

McClure instructed the students to rely on others and to surround themselves with dynamic people because the close relationships they foster will have the biggest influence on their lives and character.

“Surround yourself with people who fill you up, not who attempt to tear you down,” she said. “… One of the things I really enjoy is surrounding myself with people who are better than I am at something. … I can learn from them.”

The freshmen were told to hold onto their coin for the next four years, then upon graduating, give it to a person they consider a mentor.

“I got a lot out of (Convocation),” said nursing major LeeAnn Weppler, who was one of 174 freshmen to register for classes this semester. “I was able to really see what Spalding was about and to see how the mission statement actually stays true to the faculty … I’m meeting so many diverse people, and everybody is so nice here. It’s an awesome community, and I’m so glad I chose Spalding.”

Another new nursing major, Callie Mansfield of Whiting, Indiana, said she was drawn to McClure’s message.

“From the first time I came here, I’ve looked up to her,” said Mansfield, who plays softball for the Golden Eagles. “Even though she has accomplished so many great things, she just keeping going. … That’s why I look up to her. … She’s an amazing role model.”

Recent alumna Crystal White, who earned her Master of Science in Occupational Therapy in June, gave a memorable speech about staying dedicated to academic pursuits, even in the face of tragedy.

White, a Louisville native who attended Moore High School, said two of her friends were killed and her brother paralyzed from the waist down during a shooting in Nicholasville, Kentucky, in May.

At the time, White was only weeks away from completing her degree and was wrapping up classwork and a research project.

Despite the adversity, she stayed on course and got her master’s degree with a 3.75 grade-point average.

“I didn’t share this story with you for sympathy,” she told the first-year students, “but to remind you that perseverance is the hard work you do after the hard work you’ve already done.”

She added: “If I can make it, you can, too.”