2012 Convocation Address - Journey of Discovery
Photos from the event have been posted on Facebook (Steven Laschever Photography)
In keeping with tradition at the University of Saint Joseph, the winner of the Reverend John J. Stack Teaching Excellence Award delivers the annual Convocation Address. This year’s winner, Marie G. Kulesza, M.S., CPA, assistant professor of Business Administration, presented Journey of Discovery; text appears below.
Journey of Discovery
Convocation Address – August 28, 2012
By: Marie G. Kulesza, M.S., CPA
President Reid, faculty, staff, students, and respected members of our campus community, good afternoon. I am honored to welcome you to this convocation which opens the Academic Year 2012–our first academic year as the University of Saint Joseph.
Like many of you, I am a little sorry to see the summer come to an end. I’m already missing the days at the beach; sleeping in; working in the garden; and spending time with family. At the same time, however, I am getting restless for the academic year to begin. I am excited to reconnect with returning students. The sophomores are now seasoned members of our campus. The juniors are basking in their new role as upper classmen and the seniors are cherishing the little time they have as students. Can you believe it, commencement is just 257 days away! The graduate students are balancing work, school, and family to advance their careers. I am also eager to get acquainted with our first-year students and discover the kinds of students they will be, their passions, ambitions, and values. I hope to truly discover who these students are. The discovery of who you are begins with you, and isn’t that what college is all about? Today you will begin a journey of discovery. A journey that may at times be difficult, confusing, and uncomfortable but, I am confident, will be filled with great accomplishments.
Firstly, to achieve excellence, you must seize opportunities and pursue your education actively. Avoid sitting in the last row of a classroom hoping to fade into the background, or taking a course because you heard it was an easy “A”. Be open to different styles of learning from traditional classrooms, to on-line courses, to hands-on laboratory, and more. Be more prepared to work and take responsibility. If you fail an exam or do poorly on an assignment, be receptive to feedback and seek out and learn new strategies to help you improve. Remember, a high GPA may mean you learned the right answers but you may not have mastered learning. Don’t shy away from challenges, move beyond your comfort zone and celebrate your opportunities to learn something new. Discover an intellectual passion that matches your own talents, one that you can pursue for the rest of your life, and do that with enthusiasm and joy.
Secondly, keep in mind that your journey is much more than an academic exploration. It is about building relationships and connecting with members of the college community whose background, culture or beliefs are different from yours. Whether you are a commuter or resident, traditional or non-traditional student, dive into campus life, explore, and discover the authentic you. I encourage you to seek out an active role in community service or from our vast array of student activities. With more than 30 student-run clubs organizations, recreation and wellness programs, community service experiences, and student leadership opportunities, it’s easy to get involved. Take time to attend a wide range of events on campus– from Symposium Day to theatrical and musical performances and athletic events. Participation affords you the opportunity to form friendships with those who share a common interest; be a member of a team; and when inspired, lead others. Discover the multiple aspects of who you are and who you might become.
Thirdly, as you set out on your journey of discovery identify, define and articulate your core values. Rely on your values to guide choices and actions, making sure they are right for you and the community at large. Victor Hugo said “Change your opinions, keep to your principles; change your leaves, keep intact your roots.” The core values of Saint Joseph have been in place since its founding and will not only remain in place, but also grow stronger as a University.
You are not on this journey alone. Saint Joseph campus is a positive and supportive environment, a community fostering the Mercy Values. This is exemplified in many ways:
- Faculty who will challenge and support each student’s intellectual growth and educational development.
- Students who appreciate fellow classmates’ talents and diversity.
- Academic Advisement whose counsel will steer students in a positive direction.
- Staff and Administrators who can be relied upon for critical information and assistance as students’ progress along their academic careers.
- Student Activities and Services who provide opportunities and resources that kindle the growth of the individual student: intellectually, physically, and spiritually.
- Resident Assistants who provide personal support and comfort and enhance the students experience on campus.
- Facilities workers that fix everything and anything to maintain a safe and welcoming campus.
- Librarians whose assistance brings relief to the struggling student.
- Athletic Coaches whose mentoring extends beyond the sidelines.
- And a President whose leadership and guidance will enable all students to perform and succeed at the highest levels possible.
You stand on the threshold of an exciting journey. You are poised and ready for the next period of growth as a person. In many ways, your personal growth is reflected in our growth as an educational institution –growing from a college to a university.
For 80 years now, Saint Joseph has been changing to meet the needs of the community. Our transition this year to the University of Saint Joseph illustrates our commitment to being the best learning community we can be. I encourage each of you to be an involved and active part of that community. Working together we will surely achieve excellence.
Thank you for this opportunity to speak with you today. I welcome you and wish you all the best of luck on your journey. God bless you.