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Campus Convocation: Shepherd University welcomes students back for 150th year of education

By Tabitha Johnston - Chronicle Staff | Aug 27, 2021

Students pet J.C., the Rams’ mascot, at the convocation ceremony in Ram Stadium Friday morning. Tabitha Johnston

SHEPHERDSTOWN — The stands of Ram Stadium filled with a bustling crowd of Shepherd University students and faculty members on Friday morning, as the Ram Band played some opening numbers prior to the beginning of the school’s 150th anniversary convocation ceremony.

The ceremony, which welcomed the class of 2025, was followed by Student Departmental Orientation Sessions and a welcome picnic in the university dining hall’s amphitheater, featuring live music by SU School of Music members.

“I’m officially going to welcome you to the 2021-2022 college year. To the new students, this is the beginning of your college career with us,” said Director of Instrumental Studies Scott Hippensteel.

“I am so honored to be standing in front of you today,” said Student Government Association President Elana Gutmann at the beginning of the ceremony. “When I first arrived as a student on this campus in 2018, I didn’t think I would get involved [in campus life]. Now, I can’t imagine what my college career could have been like, had I not joined the clubs and associations I did. [The COVID-19 Pandemic] shouldn’t stand in the way of getting involved!”

Shepherd University 2021 Outstanding Teacher Lindsey Levitan followed Gutmann to the platform, and similarly reminisced on how simple decisions to do something can change someone’s future. For Levitan, her advisor’s advice to take one class her freshman year led her into her current career field of social psychology.

Shepherd University 2021 Outstanding Teacher Lindsey Levitan speaks about her experience as a freshman, during the convocation ceremony in Ram Stadium Friday morning. Tabitha Johnston

“Different can be good, especially after 2020. College is about learning the things you didn’t know you were capable of, and seeing how far you could go,” Levitan said, before encouraging her audience to seek out help from their professors. “If you need help, just ask. No one here is doing it for the money. We’re here because we love what we teach!

“Don’t just aim to graduate . . . try new things, reach for the stars and eat your vegetables,” Levitan said. “See what you can do!”

Before the Ram Band closed out the ceremony with some quintessential SU songs, including the Shepherd University Alma Mater, “Fight On” and “Hey Baby,” SU President Mary J.C. Hendricks spoke to the crowd.

“This is such an exciting day! We all know this past year has been difficult, but we also know the resilience of Shepherd students. And now, you all are Shepherd students,” Hendrix said, speaking to the class of 2025 about the school’s partial closure over the last year of the pandemic. “Welcome to your new academic home!”

Shepherd University President Mary J.C. Hendrix welcomes the class of 2025 at Ram Stadium on Friday morning. Tabitha Johnston

The Ram Band performs for the convocation attendees in Ram Stadium on Friday morning. Tabitha Johnston

Shepherd University professors hold up signs for their department tours, following the convocation ceremony on Friday morning. Tabitha Johnston