Praising “an incredible community of people…united by time, traditions, and this place we call home,” Hollins President Mary Dana Hinton officially launched the 2022-23 academic year at the university’s Opening Convocation on August 30 in duPont Chapel.
The welcoming of new students into the campus community and the procession of seniors in their graduation robes for the first time are among the highlights of the annual ceremony. Hinton cited Hollins’ class of 2023 for having “proven themselves to be resilient, engaged, supportive, brilliant learners. As we begin to find our way through this academic year, I encourage all of us to have that same spirit as our seniors.”
In her address, Hinton reiterated to students, faculty, and staff, “Our hearts and minds are tethered. I ask that as we get to know our newest members and embrace familiar relationships with others, that we seek to see the individual complexities and beauty we each bring. That, in fact, we recognize Hollins would not be the same without each and every one of us. That we choose to extend compassion, grace, gratitude, and care to each person we encounter. That when we are faced with a variety of ways to reach out and engage one to the other, that we choose to do so with love.”
Student Government Association President Jaiya McMillan ’23 shared how the Hollins motto, Levavi Oculos (“I will lift up my eyes,” taken from Psalm 121), will always resonate with her. “I want to carry those words for the rest of my life, for with them I feel that I can lift my eyes and see the wisdom I have yet to gain. I can look up and see my professors, my friends, my family, and the people I admire around me. I ask all of you to lift your eyes and look into yourselves. What do you see? Can you look back into the person you once were, and are parts of that person still existing within you today? Can you see that you are an amalgamation of experiences you’ve had with people you’ve met and the changes you’ve undergone? I hope you cherish, treasure, and love what you find there.”
Congratulating her fellow seniors, McMillan concluded, “We sit here today together, ready to take on the world in leaps and bounds. Let today be the first of many steps to knowing ourselves, knowing each other, and knowing our world.”
Following the event, the class of 2023 took part in the traditional First Step ceremony on the university’s historic Front Quad. Each year, seniors line the sidewalks of Front Quad dressed in robes they creatively design themselves. Bearing bottles of cider specially decorated for the occasion, they take their symbolic first steps onto the grass.
Photo: Hollins seniors processing in their graduation robes for the first time is one of the highlights of Opening Convocation.