"We are amazing! We are Stephens!"
- Vice Admiral Nancy E. Brown (and the entire audience of Convocation 2023)
"Convocation at Stephens is a time to stop for a minute and celebrate the beginning of a new academic year. It's a time to pause and establish our hopes for the year ahead," said Vice President for Academic Affairs Leslie Willey '83 as she kicked off the well-attended event.
Further, SGA President Carley Dudley called it "a time for renewal," and urged her fellow students to commit to fostering a culture of inclusivity, to making our society a better place to live, to being the changemakers they want to be and that this world so desperately needs right now, and to taking care of themselves in the process, so that they can make this year one "full of growth, learning, and unforgettable moments."
"You are much larger than the good or bad stories that are told -- or that you tell -- about you," said Stephens Fashion program Professor Dr. Monica McMurry (also the 2023 Distinguished Michael Bowling Advisor award winner). She went on to share more universal wisdom with the incoming class, closing with this guidance: "Move beyond words that have stifled you. Follow your path to create greatly."
When it was her turn to take the podium, first-generation American turned Executive Director of Mission Promise Kept at Stephens Elizabeth Herrera said, "Strong individuals are not born. They're made through deliberate choices." She went on to say, "I cannot emphasize this enough; focus on the kind of character you wish to develop. That is the bedrock on which you stand. If you lack that solid foundation in life, life will be exponentially harder. You're here [at Stephens] to build that foundation."
The crowd gave an emphatic standing ovation for speaker and alumna Vice Admiral Nancy E. Brown '73, who shared how Stephens had shaped her impressive journey toward being one of only three (at the time) women to hold the title of Vice Admiral in the US Navy. That strong trajectory has carried her even beyond her incredible career adventures, into retirement where she continues to serve others in various capacities, including on the Stephens College Board of Trustees. She claimed, "Stephens was the key."
And as the audience chanted along with her, "We are amazing! We are Stephens!", it was impossible not to get caught up in the fervor.
It was a display of passion that was reflected throughout the event, from the emotional stories shared and the unique strengths embodied by each of the speakers, to the stirring rendition of the Stephens Hymn, led by Conservatory students, that closed out Convocation 2023.
Here's to another year! May we all continue to Learn. Grow. Lead.