ALLIANCE, Ohio – The University of Mount Union officially welcomed its newest class of students during the annual Matriculation Convocation ceremony held Sunday afternoon.
The Class of 2023 began the academic year with a ceremony held in the Timken Gymnasium of the McPherson Academic and Athletic Complex.
Members of the Class of 2023 come from Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, China, France, Germany, Ghana, Hong Kong, Japan, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, and Spain.
Dr. Jeffrey Breese, provost of the University, welcomed the new students – more than 600 in total. Breese reminded students that this year will begin a journey that may be challenging at times but rewarding in the end.
“Be kind to yourself as you begin to find your way,” Breese said. “And be patient with yourself and your new roommates, classmates and teammates.”
Entering his fifth and final academic year as University President, Dr. Dick Merriman stated that even though four years may appear to be a long time, their time at Mount Union will fly by in the end.
“I know that graduation seems to be so far off in the future, but I assure you, the next few years will go by more quickly than you can imagine, and it’s important to make the most of your time here at Mount Union,” Merriman said.
He also spoke about the idea of the “growth mindset” and how it is the belief that one’s abilities and worldview are not fixed in a single spot, but rather developed through patience, perspective and hard work.
Following Merriman was Dr. Michael Knepp, associate professor and chair of the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience and Human Development at Mount Union and the institution’s 2019 Great Teacher. Knepp spoke about how some students may hold back on things they want to accomplish in being too focused on one specific ideal, and that he was also guilty of it in his own career.
“On the personal side, my biggest regret for not doing something was always study abroad,” Knepp said. “I never felt I had the money and never actually listened when it was explained how it was affordable. I’ve spent a good portion of my post-school life trying to compensate for that missed chance.”
Knepp concluded his portion of the program in saying, “Focus on what you want in an education to move toward a fulfilling life. You do have control over the route you want to take. You just have to go out, do something, and walk the path.”
Mount Union Student Senate President, and quadruple major in international affairs and diplomacy, national security and foreign intelligence analysis, computer science and French, Wil Luca ’20, of Tallahassee, Florida was the student representative and offered two pieces of advice to his new constituents: listening and taking advantage of their opportunities.
“Listening is not the same as hearing,” Luca said. “Hearing is a passive process, in one ear and out the other. When you decide to hear and not listen to someone it is a silent acknowledgement that you do not have anything to gain from that person. Everyone has something to gain from another.
“Right now, there is nothing saying what you can or cannot be,” Luca continued. “This might sound cliché, but it is the truth. Where you began does determine where you will finish. At this point in time everyone is at the same level. What will determine where you end is you.”
Alumni Association representative Robert Kerr ’89 was the final speaker of the afternoon and discussed his own “Secret to University Success.”
“The single most important thing you can do to ensure you reflect fondly on your time here is to make connections and stay connected,” Kerr stated. “It means getting involved on campus and making the most of your time here. Explore. Allow yourself to be relentlessly curious. Find a group of people who inspire you, who challenge you.”
Kerr continued that staying connected was important for success in both personal and professional futures. Speaking on behalf of the more than 18,000 Mount Union alumni across the world, he stressed that the alumni base is an invaluable resource for students.
Following Kerr’s comments, Breese took the stage to discuss the importance of the Matriculation Convocation. After learning about the significance of the ceremony, students had an opportunity to sign the Matriculation Book.
Signing the book is a pledge that students will dedicate their efforts and talents to excellence in liberal learning and career preparation. The book, which remains in the care of the Office of the President until graduation, will be on display in the University Store during graduation week in 2023 for students to see.