By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — Faculty and staff members of St. Ambrose University clapped as new students walked into the Rogalski Center Aug. 21, welcoming them to a new academic year. The annual convocation followed.
“I am pleased to welcome you to what will be your home for the next few years. We are fortunate that you are joining us and we look forward to getting to know you,” said St. Ambrose University President Sister Joan Lescinski, CSJ. The faculty, staff and upper-class students “welcome you and ask for your help in making it an even better place toward our mission of enriching lives.”
Although Bishop Thomas Zinkula, president of the board of trustees, could not be present, he made remarks in a video shown to those in attendance. Students may see him on campus from time to time, he said. “God willing, four years from now you will see me at commencement as you walk across the stage. Welcome class of 2022.”
Bishop Zinkula encouraged the students to take full advantage of their time at St. Ambrose. He told them that their success at the university can make an impact in the world whatever vocation or career path they choose. “If you see me, feel free to greet me. And be assured of my prayers.”
Joseph Miller, associate professor in the marketing department/sales center, gave the anchoring address. He said he is celebrating 15 years as an academic, and one year at St. Ambrose. After working for about 11 years in Detroit, he started his academic career as a PhD student.
“I know a lot of you are first-year students and, rest assured, you are listening to the right man. I have been here a year already. I had a year to scout the place out.” The students laughed. “In my short time here I have found that the university’s increased presence in the community as an agent of positive change has aligned closely with the kind of academic I truly want to be. My hope is that each of you find a similar degree of alignment in your own way.”
Miller urged the students to make the pledge to be involved in the community, and identified three main realms of involvement: development of relationships, interests and experience.
He said students have a tremendous opportunity to build relationships with the potential to bear fruit in many ways during the adult years. “This is the time to build bridges not only with peers, but professors and professional mentors who can play such a pivotal role.”
Regarding development of interests, Miller quoted Liz Wessel, who wrote in Forbes magazine that collegiate students need to “start something.” Start an organization, club or business; begin something. “Her reasoning is sound. Not only will you learn project management skills, but you will also leave a legacy.”
Find and develop your passion, he advised the students. This provides a learning opportunity outside of an interest and is “very much in tune with the St. Ambrose study in the area of liberal arts. Finally, “your experiences are a crucial indicator of what will be available to you in the future.”
Miller said that when he’s been asked to write letters of recommendation, “I remember (students’) involvement in a club, or special project they did or their work doing research with me…. What I remember are their experiences.” He told the students that the “things you do here will pay off in both direct and indirect ways in the years to come. But the time to start is now.”
Campus Minister Father Thom Hennen administered the rite of blessing and sprinkled the students with holy water. After the presidential charge, the students sang “Ambrosian Oaks” to conclude the ceremony.