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Shepherd University Convocation challenges students to get the most out of their college experience

By Staff | Aug 31, 2018

Shepherd University's new students gathered together for convocation at the Butcher Center Friday morning. Photo by Tabitha Johnston.

SHEPHERDSTOWN — Freshmen, transfer students, faculty and staff crowded into the Butcher Center Friday morning, for Shepherd University’s annual convocation ceremony.

Kicked off by the Shepherd Brass Quintet directed by Scott Hippensteel, “Shepherd Beginnings: A Community Convocation” featured 2018-2019 Student Government Association President Danielle Stephenson, Professor of Nursing Laura H. Clayton, Shepherd University President Mary J.C. Hendrix and Associate Professor Robert Tudor. Tudor led the singing of the “Happy Birthday” chorus to Dean of Graduate Studies and Continuing Education Scott Beard and the first verse of Shepherd University’s Alma Mater song to conclude the ceremony.

“When I came to Shepherd, I remember feeling excited, anxious and nervous. I decided to make this an empowering experience,” Stephenson said about her freshman year. “I’ll be the first to say here that the time you have here will be challenging and exciting.”

Comparing Shepherd University’s body to a family, Stephenson said one of the challenges she experienced her freshman year included watching friends “come and go,” and offered advice on how to find lasting friendships.

“Get involved — being involved in a number of things gives you the opportunity to find what you’re passionate about. Finding what you’re passionate about helps you find like-minded people,” Stephenson said, encouraging new students to get involved in a variety of campus opportunities, including in sports, student government and Greek letter organizations.

The Shepherd Brass Quintet, directed by Scott Hippensteel, perform during Shepherd's convocation. Left to right, Chris Goodridge, Ashleigh Stottlemyer, Kevin Mitchell, Kevin Grega and Faith Kirschling. Photo by Tabitha Johnston.

According to Clayton, not only is developing a community important for incoming students, but also finding time to balance maintaining relationships and school.

“As you begin your time at Shepherd, remember with responsibility, you’re responsible for your actions,” Clayton said. “No one’s going to tell you what you’re going to do. You now have the freedom to stay up all night, eat unhealthily, not exercise. Now you’ll have to ask yourself, do I choose to go out to have a fun time tonight? It could result in your failing a course. Those decisions are yours.

“Be more than a passive learner. You can learn something in every class, if you come prepared and pay attention in class,” Clayton said, suggesting students find a friend who can also be a study partner. “You be that friend to someone, and find someone who can be that friend to you, to get the most out of your classes.”

Hendrix closed the ceremony, encouraging students to look forward to their college careers at Shepherd University.

“Today we celebrate a new milestone in your academic journey. Please brace yourselves for a time of excitement and fun. Your social sphere will widen, your interests will deepen,” Hendrix said. “College is a time for serious academic endeavors, as well as exciting experiences — your experience here is what you make it.”