New Student Convocation 2015: May Your Life Be Filled With Many LOL’s

Above photo, Westminster College President Dr. Benjamin Akande at New Student Convocation 2015 with Matthew Pearl ’19 and  Cora Panettiere ’19.

Good afternoon, students, parents, faculty, staff, alumni, trustees, other guests, and most importantly, new students.

Welcome to Westminster College.

As you begin the next phase of your life, in the lingo of Facebook, you have a new “status.”  Time to update your wall.  What will it say on your wall tonight? What will your connections update broadcast to your network?

Perhaps you’ll post some pictures, upload images, and tag your smiling classmates to memorialize today’s festivities.

But when it comes to status, will you use this occasion to merely add your new credential to your account profile?

Will your status read: “freshman or new student at Westminster?”

Or will your status represent the journey you begin today that will forever change that status?

Will it say:  “off to explore,” “starting my journey,” “continuing to challenge myself?”

Will it be bold?  Will it help define you?

Certainly changing your status will not change your “self.” That is why I want Westminster to be more than just a change in status for you.  I want it to be a life changing experience.

I hope you will learn while here at Westminster that learning is not a destination…but a lifelong journey. While learning may change your status, it is not a status…it is a state of being.

So I would challenge you to be a critically aware life-long learner — to become leaders of character committed to the values of integrity, fairness, respect, and responsibility.

Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations, articulated so clearly why you must accept this challenge.

He said:  “Knowledge is power.  Information is liberating.  Education is the premise of progress, in every society and in every family.”

That is why I challenge you today to be a lifelong learner.

I have a second challenge for all you Twitter  users out there who would tweet out today’s events.

From this day forward, I ask that you measure your success not by how many people follow you on Twitter, but how many follow you in leading change.  Your impact will be measured by the quality of your followers…and by the quality of your leadership.

I want to further challenge you not to limit your life’s narrative to 140 characters. with all due respect to my friend and founder of Twitter, St. Louis native Jack Dorsey, 140 characters may be adequate for many messages, but no one should strive for such a short-form epitaph, resume, or testimonial.

You are a generation raised in the culture of fast, short, immediate communication should skip the lmao, ttyl, idk, and omg.

Instead I ask that you strive to accumulate a vast, exhaustive collection of polysyllabic accolades and adjectives to describe your life.

Let me suggest a few:  adjectives like reliable, engaged, persistent, honorable, persistent, creative, inquisitive, accomplished, and committed.  Accolades such as mom, dad, entrepreneur, innovator, giver, philanthropist, leader, education, and questioner.

I implore you to let your status be always “seeking.”

And may your life be filled with many moments where you just want to lol.

Great people have great thoughts.  Before you, the newest members of the Blue Jay Nation, begin your journey here I want to share a few with you that I believe you will find valuable over the next four years:

  • Remember the difference between success and failure is really a matter of time.
  • Your destiny is a very important and permanent thing, so please don’t leave it in the hands of others.
  • Don’t be preoccupied with doing things right.  Pay more attention to doing the right things.
  • Learn how to manage your time, because it’s the only thing that you can control.
  • Learn from the mistakes of others because you can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.
  • Remember to be grateful.
  • Saddle your dreams before you ride them.
  • Maturity has more to do with what type of experiences you have had, and what you have learned, and less to do with how many birthdays you have celebrated.
  • You were all born originals, but often so many people spend the rest of their lives trying to be copies.  stay original.

Most of all, remember that the future belongs to those who excel at doing a few things well; those who are determined to surpass their expectations and develop the capacity to consistently deliver on their promises.

Tomorrow will be owned by those who choose to be flexible and are unfazed by insurmountable challenges.

So new Blue Jays, as you look ahead to the next four years, may you be bold enough to clear your own pathway.

May you muster your courage to find your calling.

Remember this … That the future belongs to only those who can see it.

Congratulations.  Well done.  Welcome to Westminster College.

We’re glad you’re here.  Enjoy your journey.  Thank you.

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