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.


Spalding will celebrate graduates from the classes of 2020 and 2021 during Commencement, June 3-5, 2021. In the leadup, Spalding is featuring graduates from a range of academic programs. Today’s featured graduate is Haley Nestor, who earned the degree of Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in 2020 and who just began her second term as President of the Student Government Association. She is currently enrolled in Spalding’s Master of Science in Business Communication program. She is also a former track and field and cross country athlete.

Which years have you attended Spalding University, and which degree are you earning? 

I began my journey at Spalding in 2017 and completed my bachelor’s in business administration with a concentration in finance and a minor in psychology in 2020. I loved it so much, I came back for my master’s and will complete that at the end of 2021.

How do you feel about your accomplishment of completing your degree and graduating?

To me, I am taking away so much more than just a degree. When I graduate, yes, I will have a degree. But I will also have great friends, great connections with effective leaders, a fiancé who I met at Spalding, a father-figure who was once my coach. I am extremely blessed to be at this point in my life. The hard work is finally paying off, and I couldn’t be prouder of myself and excited to provide for a family one day.

COMMENCEMENT 2021 | Details and schedule for graduation
LEARN ABOUT THIS GRAD’S PROGRAM | BS in Business Administration

What was it like to finish your degree during the pandemic?

I have an unpopular opinion about finishing my degree during the pandemic. For me, the pandemic helped me hold myself accountable more. There are many lessons you learn during your college career, accountability being one of them. The pandemic forced many students to be held accountable and stay on top of their responsibilities. The pandemic also forced me to connect with individuals on a totally different platform and made me so resilient to what life wants to throw at me. The pandemic made things more challenging, but at the end, it made me resilient, and it made Spalding University resilient, and that is a great thing.

What is something specifically about your academic program that you liked or that stands out about Spalding’s program/system that may not be the case at another school?

Something that has always stood out to me is the fact that Tori McClure is the President. I love being a leader, I love being able to help and advocate for students, staff, and faculty. To see a woman be such an influential and effective leader has led me to where I am today. I was told in high school that women cannot be successful in the business world or be taken seriously as a leader. Seeing President McClure work and being able to have great conversations with her showed me that is not the case.

Describe something you have done or accomplished at Spalding that you are proud of:

By the time that I graduate from Spalding with my bachelor’s and master’s, I will have served in student government as a Senator, Secretary and two-time President of the Executive Board. This is something that I am proud of because a goal I live by is to leave something better than the way you found it. I love that students, staff and faculty have been able to count on me to be an advocate for them. It has been the leading factor in choosing to pursue an MSBC in Organizational Leadership, and it will continue to be the leading factor in developing myself as a leader for the rest of my life. During my time at Spalding, I was able to be a part of the Cross Country and Track and Field teams, SGA and Residence Life, while maintaining a full-time job and being a full-time student. I am proud to become a Spalding alumna. My time at Spalding is something that I will forever remember.

What has been your favorite thing about attending Spalding, and why?

My favorite thing about attending Spalding was meeting my fiancé. I remember the day like it was yesterday. It was during his Engage event when I was a Resident Assistant (RA) volunteering to help with the Rock, Paper, Scissors battle. After many rounds of Rock, Paper, Scissors – I won, of course – I knew his smile and competitiveness would be one that I wanted to remember forever. I never expected to find the love of my life so early in my life, but I have been so fortunate. Spalding will always have a special place in my relationship and in my life. Another great person I met at Spalding was our former cross country coach, Bradley Sowder. He will be the one who marries us when the time comes, and to meet someone who we trust to guide our marriage is so big. I am so blessed to have found these wonderful people at Spalding.

What is something personal about your journey to graduating from Spalding that people may not know but that you’d like to share and that you are proud of? 

When people see me or my accomplishments, they have always believed that I was a 4.0 student and have everything figured out. What people do not know is that Spalding offers a great resource that I took full advantage of. I was able to do a full assessment of my mental health, learning ability and more. I found out very early that I struggled with my vocabulary, retaining information, sleep, anxiety, etc. I did not start out figuring everything out, and I still do not have everything figured out. But there are people at Spalding that you find who will have a huge impact on you and keep you on track. I have had many conversations with professors on how I can better retain information, whether that was recording lectures, staying after, going to study groups, etc. I have had conversations with people who have told me to slow down and to enjoy the moment. I have always said that life is all about connections, and Spalding has brought me great connections. I can say that I have never failed a class, and I have made it to the Deans list more than once. At the beginning, I did not think college was for me, but once you find the people who want the best for you as much as you do, they really do make an impact.

Other than Commencement, the Running of the Rodents is Spalding’s oldest annual tradition, held each spring around Kentucky Derby season as a fun break from the “rat race” of upcoming exams and the end of the school year. This joyful event for students, faculty and staff was held for 47 consecutive years until last year, when, unfortunately, the pandemic forced us to take a pause. Led by the Student Government Association, Spalding is proud to announce that next week, festivities surrounding the week of the Running of the Rodents will return, leading up to a modified, socially distant, livestreamed version of our rat derby on Thursday, April 22.

RELATED: 2019 Running of the Rodents ‘Rat Recap’

More information and reminders will be shared next week, but Rat Week activities will kick off Monday afternoon, with a Spring Carnival at Trager Park sponsored by the Residence Hall Association. (See info below.)

For all events, remember to practice social distancing, wear a mask (including for outdoor events) and complete the CampusClear assessment before coming to campus.

Here is the schedule:

Monday, April 19

RHA Spring Carnival, Trager Park, 3-7 p.m.: Join the RHA and our campus residents for yard games and activity stations, including cornhole, ladder golf, giant Connect 4 and a tie-dye station. (Bring your own items to tie-dye.) There will be popsicles and lemonade for attendees. Also, to benefit Family Scholar House, bring a donation of school supplies to be entered into a raffle. The raffle winner will receive a prize from the Campus Store.

Rat Race Photo Archive, Library Huff Gallery, all day (Monday-Thursday): A video of photos will be on display.

Tuesday, April 20
Lemon Juleps, College Street Café, lunch hours: The Café will serve Spalding’s traditional Running of the Rodents beverage. The Library will have a fun display with the history of the drink.

Derby Hat Social Media Contest, enter by noon: Create a Running of the Rodents or Kentucky Derby hat and please submit a photo of it to [email protected] or tag @spaldinguniversity on Instagram by noon. The winner will receive a Rat Race T-shirt.

Rat Race Photo Archive, Library Huff Gallery, all day: A video of photos will be on display.

Wednesday, April 21

Way Back Wednesday, all day: Please share your Rat Race photos from previous years on social media and tag @spaldinguniversity on Instagram, @spaldingu on Twitter or @spaldinguniversity on Facebook. Or email your photos to [email protected].

Rat Race Photo Archive, Library Huff Gallery, all day: A video of photos will be on display.

Thursday, April 22

Modified Running of the Rodents, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: More information to come next week on the details of this year’s socially distant races!

Rat Race Photo Archive, Library Huff Gallery, all day: A video of photos will be on display.


Dear Spalding Students,

Things are so crazy right now, but I wanted to let everyone know that Spalding is behind you and that if there is anything you need to please reach out to me, or anyone who you feel comfortable.

This would be a great time for you to read that book that you have been wanting to read this entire year, maybe start keeping a journal or start that hobby that you loved when you were younger. Maybe this is a time for you to connect with those people whom you have lost a connection with due to the craziness of life. You could learn new skills via YouTube, or put your skills on Youtube. You could also catch up on some gaming or that art piece that has been put on hold.

RELATED: Spalding’s COVID-19 info and resource page

While we engage in social distancing, please use the hashtag #SpaldingStrong when posting what you are up to during this time! We would love to have a network where we share ideas on how we are spending our time!

We, as a Spalding Community, will get through COVID-19 one day at a time, one step at a time like President McClure stated.

We as a community will be Spalding Strong in pushing through to the finish. I am always open to talk with anyone, you can connect with me at [email protected] ! Stay well and stay #SpaldingStrong.

Haley Nestor is President of Spalding’s Student Government Association.

With Commencement approaching on June 1, Spalding is publishing a series of stories and Q&A’s that highlight students from a range of degree programs who are set to graduate. Next up is Amanda Jewell, who is earning the degree of Bachelor of Science in Nursing. She also holds offices in the Student Government Association and the Kentucky Association of Nursing Students.

What is your favorite Spalding memory?
My favorite Spalding memory was when the School of Nursing won the 2019 Rat Race. I had never heard of this tradition prior to transferring to Spalding University, but it was definitely a fun and interesting experience being a “rat trainer.” We almost won the year before, so I was determined to pull through for first place this year!

Which accomplishments are you most proud of during your time at Spalding?
Over the past two years at Spalding, I have served on the Student Government Association Senate for the School of Nursing and Executive Board as the Vice President of Non-traditional Students, the Second Vice President of the School of Nursing, and the Kentucky Association of Nursing Students’ Executive Board as Secretary. Prior to attending Spalding, I hadn’t really been involved throughout my collegiate career, so it was a great experience!

What’s your favorite spot on campus?
My favorite spots on campus are the School of Nursing Laboratories. We have simulation mannequins to practice procedures on, so it has helped me improve my nursing skills.

At Spalding, we like to say that, “Today is a great day to change the world.” For many of our students, Commencement is a world changing experience. After graduation, how do you plan to change the world, big or small, and who inspires you to be a #spaldingworldchanger?
My close friends and family have inspired me to be a #spaldingworldchanger! I decided to follow in my mother’s footsteps and become a pediatric nurse. Upon graduation, I am relocating to Cincinnati to work in the Pediatric Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit as a Registered Nurse. I could not be more excited for my next adventure to begin!

With Commencement approaching on June 1, Spalding is publishing a series of stories and Q&A’s that highlight students from a range of degree programs who are set to graduate. Next up is Cameron Ferguson, who is set to receive a bachelor of science in accounting degree. He is also a member of the Student Government Association and the Social Media Ambassadors program. 

What is your favorite Spalding memory?
I have a lot of great memories at Spalding University. I have met a lot of wonderful and awesome people here and have made a lot of awesome friends. I have also joined several campus organizations during my final year at Spalding, including the SGA Senate and the Social Media Ambassadors. I think that my favorite memory at Spalding would have to be when I had the opportunity to portray Spalding’s new mascot, Ollie the Eagle, this past year for the first time ever. I was able to reprise my role as a mascot for the first time since my senior year in high school, where I did it for 2 1/2 years. I had a lot of fun doing it back in high school and not only that, I did it as a way to work on my social skills because of how I have Autism. I was thinking of different ways on how I could work on improving my social skills, and I found that being a mascot was a great idea to do because I had great results each time I did it, I also learned a lot about being a mascot, and I found it to be rewarding. Not only was I able to bring a smile and a laugh or two to people, but I brought a smile to myself afterwards because of how fun it was for me to go out there as Ollie the Eagle and be the silly, goofy person that most people that know me, don’t get to see much in me at all. While I may have gotten to do it for only one time, it was the best time of my life, and I loved it.

What accomplishments are you most proud of during your time at Spalding?
There are a lot of accomplishments that I achieved at Spalding that I am very proud of, but I think one of my biggest was being invited to join the Spalding School of Business’ prestigious organization Sigma Beta Delta. It was such an honor to have joined this organization last year and become a member because of how I was recognized for all of my hard work and good grades. As a result of this selection, I was also given a special graduation cord that I can wear at Commencement. I will be very happy and proud to wear it.

What’s your favorite spot on campus?
That’s a tough one. I don’t know if I do have a favorite spot on campus. I have been to every building on campus, and I have seen almost every part of those buildings, too. It is hard to decide which place on campus is my favorite spot to hang out at. I do know that the library is one of my No. 1 places to go to and just work on stuff and hang out, so I guess you could say it’s my favorite place on campus.

At Spalding, we like to say that, “Today is a great day to change the world.” For many of our students, Commencement is a world changing experience. After graduation, how do you plan to change the world, big or small, and who inspires you to be a #spaldingworldchanger?
I have several different goals that I want to pursue after graduation pretty soon. I am thinking about coming back to Spalding to join the MSBC Program. But I know that I must find my first full-time job and pay off my student loans before I can think about coming back for grad school. I’m hoping that by getting my master’s degree, that I could expand my knowledge and try to make an impact or a difference in the world, by putting myself into new situations that I don’t know much about and try to find a solution to it.

And because I’ve enjoyed it so much, I want to hopefully try to become a professional mascot somewhere for one of the many pro sports teams in the United States, while also continuing to be an accountant, too.

Some of my biggest influences have been some of my closest friends and my family because they have believed in me and they are very proud of me for everything that I have done. Two people who I think are my biggest influences and inspirations for being a Spalding World Changer are fellow classmate, friend, and former SGA President Scotty Brooks, and fellow Spalding alumnus and former SGA President Chris Muncy. They are probably just the most down-to-earth, nicest people I have ever met, and I’m just so happy that I have gotten to know them for the past year I have looked up to these two guys each day since I started my last year here, and they have always believed in me. Scotty would sometimes give me pep talks every now and then, and I would also enjoyed listening to him give them to me because it wasn’t for him and for Chris, I never would have done all of the amazing stuff that I did this past year, and I thank them each day for it because of how awesome they are. Also, if it wasn’t for their hard work for serving on the SGA Executive Board as well, I never would have called Spalding a second home.

Additionally, Spalding Marketing Director Amanda Lucas has also become one of my biggest inspirations at Spalding because she was the person who persuaded me to come to the university five years ago, when I first met her at a college fair at my high school. So thank you, Amanda, for being an awesome person and one of my biggest inspirations. Lastly, I want to say thank you to everyone else whom I’ve met at Spalding throughout the last four years! You have also been a big influence on me and on my college journey, too. I also wish everyone the best of luck down the road and to always have fun! Once again, thank you, Spalding University, and go Golden Eagles!

Why be a leader of one student organization, when you can be a leader of many – including all the way up to the national level?

That’s the mind-set Spalding University School of Nursing student Scotty Brooks has fervently adopted. Among his multiple leadership roles, Brooks is breaking ground for Spalding by being its first student since at least the 1980s to serve on the National Student Nurses’ Association board.

Brooks has also begun a 2018-19 school year in which he’ll serve as the new president of both the Spalding Student Government Association and the Kentucky Association of Nursing Students. The latter led to his national position – as chair of the council of presidents of state nursing associations. By virtue of that role, he is an ex officio member of the NSNA board.

Brooks, who is in his senior year in Spalding’s bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) program, is also president of the Spalding University Nursing Students organization, and he expects to lead a big group of his Spalding peers to that KANS conference that he’ll preside over Sept. 28-30 at 21c Museum Hotel, just blocks from Spalding’s campus.

The NSNA Midyear Career Planning Conference will also be held in downtown Louisville, Nov. 8-11 at the Galt House.

To hold leadership roles at the state and national level “means a lot to me personally in the sense that it’s giving me a lot of opportunities for growth and development in my career and my education,” Brooks said. “It means even more that Spalding University is getting the name and the recognition that it deserves.”

Now 30 years old and having previously served as Spalding SGA vice president for nontraditional students, Brooks’ zest for the outdoors led him somewhat serendipitously to the Spalding School of Nursing.

After graduating from Trinity High School, he spent two years at the University of Kentucky as an architecture major. He said his heart was never in it, and he left school to travel.

He rediscovered a childhood passion for backpacking and rock-climbing and began to work as a nature guide.

Eventually, through his guiding business, he sought certification as a wilderness first responder, and in the training process, he said, “I sort of fell in love with medicine.”

One way, he concluded, that he could pursue both loves – guiding and medicine – was to become a search-and-rescue nurse. One of his clients suggested he look at Spalding’s nursing school, and that led to a new and rewarding climb toward a new career.

He enrolled at Spalding in the fall of 2015. Former Spalding Dean of Undergraduate Education Mistalene Calleroz-White served as Brooks’ success coach during his first year and encouraged him to seek out leadership positions on campus and through his major.

School of Nursing faculty members Patty Spurr, who is chair of the school, Becky Gesler and Christina Meek encouraged him, too.

“It’s made me realize that even though I’m 30 now, I’m totally reliving the college experience and doing what I’d wished I’d done when I was 18,” Brooks said. “… I’m just trying to really take advantage of my time here and experience all that I can. Not everyone gets to go to college once, much less twice.”

Gesler offered high praise for Brooks.

“Scotty approaches leadership experiences with a passion and represents Spalding University in the best possible way,” she said. “We are privileged that Scotty chose Spalding for his college experience. Scotty will pave the way for the Spalding School of Nursing in regard to state and national exposure. Under Scotty’s leadership, nursing will be forever changed.”

Brooks said he’s proud to represent Spalding and the School of Nursing because of the positive experiences he’s had at the university.

He said he values the culture Spalding President Tori Murden McClure has tried to create in which Spalding students always feel physically, psychologically and spiritually safe but also exposed to and challenged by new ideas and ways of thinking that are outside their comfort zone.

In the School of Nursing, “I’m being challenged every single day,” Brooks said. “They push, but they want you to push back and want you to succeed. It’s just the most supporting, loving environment I’ve been in academically. The faculty and staff over there are amazing. I would absolutely recommend it to anybody.”

Brooks recalled how one semester he was struggling in a difficult nursing class and “bombed my first test.” His professor made herself available to him for an hour every week – outside her normal office hours – to review material and test-taking strategies. He ended up getting an “A” on his final exam.

“I think there is support (at universities) everywhere, but at a lot of places you have to ask for it,” Brooks said. “Here, you don’t even have to ask for it because they offer it to you.”

After school, Brooks said he hopes to fulfill his goal of becoming a rescue nurse or a flight nurse, caring for high-risk patients as they’re transferred via helicopter.

Earlier this month, Brooks got recertified as a wilderness first responder when he joined McClure and a group of faculty and staff for nearly two weeks of training and camping at the National Outdoor Leadership School in North Carolina.

Additionally, Brooks’ recent experiences in leadership positions have sparked interest in new potential career paths. He said he thinks he might be well-suited to work in jobs involving health policy and health advocacy and could be interested in Spalding’s Master of Science in Business Communication (MSBC) program with a focus in health care management, as well as the nursing school’s Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program.

“Nursing is really an altruistic endeavor,” he said, “and to be the best nurse I can be would mean that I would need to help the most amount of people that I could in the best way that I could. For me, given all these leadership opportunities, I think that might mean more than just bedside care.”

Beyond his involvement in nursing and nursing organizations, Brooks is eager to represent all of Spalding’s students as SGA president. Brooks said he hopes to follow in the footsteps of former President Chris Muncy – who also served as the president of KANS – in keeping SGA and the university’s Recognized Student Organizations thriving and growing in profile.

“I’m so passionate about Spalding University, and having the opportunity to work hand in hand with faculty and staff and represent the entire student body is a really big honor,” Brooks said. “To go into my senior year with that opportunity is huge for me.”

Related: Nursing faculty Nancy Kern provides Hepatitis-A vaccines to the homeless

Related: Nursing professor Erica Lemberger named a ‘Health Care Hero’

Learn more: Spalding’s historic School of Nursing programs