OXFORD – Members of the University of Mississippi Class of 2015 were charged Thursday night with completing their education at Ole Miss, being involved in the community and devoting their careers to the service of others.
“Through your service and involvement over the next few years, you will make a valuable contribution to the strength and values of this institution,” Provost Morris Stocks said at the 2011 Freshman Convocation.
Chancellor Dan Jones told them, “Consider what you can do with your life to make the world a better place. … Gandhi often said, ‘The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.’”
The challenge made most compellingly was that of Rebecca Skloot, author of “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” the university’s Common Reading Experience selection for 2011-2012.
“Think about your passions and where they could lead you in your education and your career,” she said.
Skloots had wanted to be a veterinarian since age 5 but in college discovered a gift for writing that went with her love of science.
Her most compelling story to date is that of Henrietta Lacks, a black woman who died of cancer in 1951, some of whose cells were used without permission or pay in wide-ranging medial research, including some commercial research.
Skloots ultimately spent a decade writing Lacks’ story.
The author used her own “accidental writer” experience to emphasize to the audience, “Most people in the world take rough and imperfect paths to get to success. … Not having everything figured out is the best approach to college.”
This year’s freshmen constitute the largest incoming class to date.
“Before I came here, I saw the logo (on the Web) and wondered, “Why is the logo ‘Experience Amazing’?” said Lauren Loyless of Athens, Texas. “Then I got here and saw: This place is simply amazing!”
Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal