Convocation 2021 | Advice to new students: ‘Open your heart, mind, and soul to the people around you’

Spalding Staff

Spalding University held its annual Convocation ceremony on Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021 at the Columbia Gym Auditorium, welcoming new students to the Spalding community and helping them understand the Spalding mission. Spalding President Tori Murden McClure and Louisville Urban League President/CEO were among the speakers.

Spalding Student Government Association President Haley Nestor, who earned her bachelor’s from Spalding in 2020 and is now a student in the Master of Science in Business Communication program, gave remarks on behalf of Student Government, with advice about starting college. You can read Nestor’s remarks (edited slightly for brevity) below:

MESSAGE FROM SGA, President Haley Nestor, MSBC student

Good morning everyone. If feels like just yesterday it was 2017, and I was sitting exactly where you sit today, letting my mom know that I went to class, feeling overwhelmed with assignments, trying to navigate around campus, feeling awkward because I just slept next to a stranger and honestly, looking at the cute boys. I remember looking at the speaker who had the time slot I have today and thinking, how do I get there? How do I become that person who strives to inspire and develop others?

Today, I am so proud to stand here as not only a Spalding Alum and current graduate student but as a representative of the Student Government Association. I am Haley Nestor, and I am your 2021-2022 Student Government President. First and foremost, congratulations to you on becoming a Golden Eagle, getting past mom and dad’s tears as their baby has flown the coop, getting pass the soreness of moving your things up and down the residence halls that you now call your new home, and finally getting comfortable sleeping next to that complete stranger.

Haley Nestor, Spalding student
SGA President Haley Nestor

I am sure you are all feeling overwhelmed with the amount of times your parents have called you, the lengthy syllabi, choosing what outfit to wear, and I am sure the list goes on. As I was trying to map out the perfect words to say today, I quickly realized that this would be more than just a warm welcome. But a time for me to say the things that I really needed to hear when I sat in the seat that you are in today.

● Allow your parents to check-in and be proud of you and allow yourself to miss them.

● Embrace the different personalities, ethnicities, religions, point of views, and cultures. After all we are a diverse community of learners and you can grow a lot as a person embracing those that are different from you.

● Meet the needs of the time and appreciate the things like being able to have a conversation with a friend but staying six feet apart, having a roommate, having a discussion in class, etc. COVID-19 is our reality and it has its restrictions, but it should not be restricting how creative the mind can be as well as your ability to interact with one another.

● Open your heart, mind, and soul to the people around you. I never would of thought freshman Haley with a lot of freedom, would meet her love of her life on this very campus or the best friends who will stand next to her as she says “I do.”

● Finally, get out of your comfort zone and get involved. I met my fiancé on the cross country team, I learned and developed with student representatives through Student Government, and I have found this passion and love for leadership through Spalding University.

During your time here, I hope you come to realize that Student Government is a resource for you. It is our duty to advocate for and empower students to make our university a better place for all. We have a student representative for undergraduate students and graduate students as well as a secretary and a treasurer. I am excited to meet you all and have conversations on how you can be involved on campus and in the community.

For all the late nights, midterm and final cramming sessions and stressful group projects, I can assure you that it will be worth it. Try something new, change your major, but most importantly  find yourself being comfortable with who you truly are and then share it with the world.

Thank you for having me today, and I am looking forward to seeing one of you in this very spot next year.


Before Nestor spoke, student leader Victoria Shedron, an elementary education major, gave the Invocation at Convocation. Here is Shedron’s prayer:

This is a moment of privilege, a moment in which these students have chosen to take upon the calling to be a student, to live out their individual callings through their specific gifts and talents. We recognize the blessing that that truly is. We pray that we are stewards to the opportunity and resources that have graciously been given to us. We ask for wisdom as we enter into this new season that has been prepared for us. We seek spiritual reassurance in our physical safety, mental and emotional well-being, and the inevitable growth that will occur in our time here at Spalding. I personally stand with the leadership in praying for students to be courageous and kind during this time of resistance. It is not a burden to be given the calling of resilience, for You have gifted us the power of resilience in our innermost being, and that itself is a blessing.