STARKVILLE, Miss.--Mississippi State's Class of 2018 will learn about making a difference in the world from 2014 Maroon Edition author Sarah Thebarge at the university's first-ever Freshman Convocation.
Thebarge wrote "The Invisible Girls: A Memoir" (Jericho Books, 2013), this year's shared reading selection for campus. She will be the keynote speaker for the Aug. 19 program that will begin at 4:30 p.m. in Humphrey Coliseum.
The daughter of a Pennsylvania minister will focus her address on faith, doubt and hope, the same themes presented in the novel. Thebarge, who now resides in California, also will sign copies of the book following the ceremony.
"It's easy to look at the world and see only the problems that exist, but people think they have to be famous or have a million dollars to make a difference," Thebarge said. "But if you can help one other person, you can help change the world. You just have to open your eyes and be willing to take the risk of loving the people around you."
Also speaking will be MSU President Mark E. Keenum and Provost and Executive Vice President Jerry Gilbert.
Emphasizing Maroon Edition's themes fits the same philosophy underlying the convocation, said Peter L. Ryan, associate provost of academic affairs and one of the event's coordinators.
"The theme of the book shows how one can overcome adversity even in the face of great odds," Ryan explained. "These new freshman students will undoubtedly face challenges over the next four years, but by engaging and assisting their peers, who may have similar or greater challenges, they greatly enhance their own coping skills."
He said the new Mississippi State tradition will become an annual fall event; it was designed to introduce new students to the university and emphasize the importance of focusing on academic success.
Campus administrators and faculty members will join the freshmen, all of whom will receive a convocation coin to mark their attendance. Accommodations also will be provided for distance-education students, Ryan said.
"The intent of the convocation program is to emphasize the importance of academics with the goal of each student being successful in college and in life," he said. "Freshman Convocation is a precursor to commencement, where students will receive their diplomas after successfully meeting their degree requirements."
Student Association President Brett R. Harris, a senior management major from Florence, will introduce the new students to the faculty and administrators, while Holland Faculty Senate President Randy Follett, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, will extend a welcome on behalf of his teaching and research colleagues.
As part of an established fall semester tradition, the freshmen will sign the MSU Honor Code and commit to uphold honesty and integrity while they attend the 136-year-old land-grant institution.
"We hope that the convocation is viewed by the freshmen as their formal acceptance into the university as they embark on their journey over the next four years, and they will engage in scholarly and co-curricular activities that will prepare them well to be successful citizens in society," Ryan said.
See www.msstate.edu to learn more about MSU.