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Speakers inspire at Opening Convocation

August 29, 2013

Motivational speaker, cancer survivor and author encouraged new and returning Stephens College students to seize opportunities, be their own advocates and make the most of any situation.

Keynote Speaker Kim Becking joined the Stephens community Thursday, Aug. 29, for the annual Academic Opening Convocation, a campus tradition that dates back more than 100 years. The event officially welcomed students back to campus and kicked off the 2013-14 school year.

Becking, who now lives in Columbia, was an attorney and mom of a 2-year-old when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. With the help of her support group, three other young women battling the disease, Becking co-authored “Nordie’s at Noon” about their experiences. The book was rejected several times before being published and, ultimately, successful.

“You’re going to have people who tell you that you can’t do something,” she said. “It’s your choice what you do with that.” Becking’s advice mirrored encouragement students heard from faculty, staff and a fellow student during the ceremony. Assistant professors Dan Schultz, the 2013 Distinguished Teacher, and Laura Flacks-Narrol, the 2013 Michael Bowling Distinguished Advisor, told students to invest in their coursework and the opportunities they will have during their Stephens careers.

“This place is really magical,” Schultz said, later adding: “Take advantage of our awesomeness.”

Flacks-Narrol recommended students think of their college years as a Pinterest page ready to be filled with a collection of activities and experiences, especially those that fall outside of their comfort zones.

“We want you to go beyond your wildest dreams,” she said. And Stephens faculty members are here to help, said Lois Bichler, Associate Professor of Biology and Chairwoman of the Faculty Council. She told students that faculty members here have a “fire” for teaching and for their subject areas. “You matter,” she said. “Know the faculty at Stephens College are always with fire for our work with you.”

Senior Steffanie Frank, President of the Student Government Association, also encouraged students to be active by either joining clubs or organizations or by starting their own. “You’re not going to accomplish anything by doing nothing,” she said. “Stephens has so much to offer.”

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