First Freshman Convocation features Maroon Edition author

Mississippi State University’s inaugural Freshman Convocation offered more than 3,000 students in August the opportunity to celebrate their becoming part of the Class of 2018.

Sarah Thebarge, the author of this year’s common reading experience selection, “The Invisible Girls,” explained how the themes of her book already apply to the freshmen’s lives.

“What do you get the girl that has absolutely nothing? You get that girl an education. Getting an education opens your horizons, it gives you choices and it gives you a chance,” Thebarge said. “This is what I want for those little girls I wrote about in my book, and that’s what I want for you. At the core, all of us are just the same. All of us want to be known and loved and cared for: We all want people to celebrate us.”

The approximately 2,000 freshmen in attendance applauded Thebarge’s speech with a standing ovation before they recited the University Honor Code in unison and sang the alma mater, “Maroon and White.” Also, the Class of 2018 received commemorative Freshman Convocation coins.

In addition to Thebarge, university administrators, including MSU President Mark E. Keenum and Provost and Executive Vice President Jerry Gilbert, along with Student Association President Brett Harris and Faculty Senate President Randy Follett, welcomed the new students.

Each leader affirmed that becoming part of the MSU family will be a special educational and social experience for the Class of 2018.

Attending MSU will change its students’ lives, Keenum emphasized. They will grow, learn and become the leaders who will answer the questions and the challenges of the 21st century, he said.

“Our goal is to ensure that you’re prepared to lead a good life and contribute to the community, state and nation, and all the people who are less fortunate than you are,” Keenum said. “Each one of you is capable of earning a degree from Mississippi State, and with that degree, you can literally do anything and be anything you want to be.”

Gilbert echoed those sentiments and encouraged students to learn both in classrooms and through activities.

“We are excited to commemorate the beginning of your academic journey at MSU,” Gilbert told the Class of 2018. “Your journey to completing college will include much more than going to classes; you will be gaining life skills. I hope you will get involved in learning activities outside the classroom to reinforce the things you will learn in class, and I hope that you leave this ceremony inspired that you will be successful here at Mississippi State and in life.”

University leaders expect to continue the Freshman Convocation ceremony in future years, Keenum said.

By Leah Barbour, Photography by Megan Bean