Few events in an individual’s life resonate quite as strongly as going to college.
For many, the first day is an initiation – a rite of passage that ushers students from the perceived worries of their youth into the realities of adulthood. For others, it is a challenge – a test of ability in which winners are determined through grade point averages and certificates of merit. And for some, it is simply the next in a long line of forward-looking steps.
On Aug. 14, Georgia Regents University welcomed hundreds of new freshmen into the fold with a day of celebration and learning as part of the 2015 Freshman Convocation. Introduced by Dr. Gretchen Caughman, President Brooks Keel also greeted students, providing encouragement and welcoming the class of 2019 to the GRU family as one newcomer to another.
“You and I have many things in common,” said Keel. “I am just starting my time here at GRU, so in many ways, I am a freshman as well.”
Keel extolled the value of graduating within four years and praised faculty both for their care and dedication to the art of teaching.
Following Keel’s speech, Col. Sam Anderson, garrison commander of Fort Gordon, took the stage to speak to students about the importance of being leaders.
“In many ways, you are already role models,” said Anderson. “Over the course of the next four years, your job is to determine what kind of role model you want to be. What kind of leader do you want to be?”
Anderson concluded with a quote from Adm. William H. McRaven, whose original speech at the 2014 commencement of the University of Texas at Austin has gained worldwide attention on YouTube.
“Know that life is not fair and that you will fail often,” said Anderson, quoting his former boss. “But if you take some risks, step up when the times are the toughest, face down the bullies, lift up the downtrodden and never, ever give up. If you do these things, the next generation, and the generations that follow, will live in a far better world than today.”
Following Anderson came the presenter students were most looking forward to hearing from: GRU sophomore Lucas “Luke” Street. Having worked as a Retreat Week Leader, a Peer Mentor and Orientation Leader, Street has encouraged dozens of new students to find new ways to get involved on campus.
In addition to general tips about being a freshman, Street offered incoming students a few pieces of important advice.
“Get involved, make friends, be true to yourself, make memories,” said Street. “Those really speak for themselves, don’t they? That’s as much as I can say about them.”