November 23, 2014  

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Southern Miss President Welcomes First-Year Students to Campus

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Southern Miss President Rodney Bennett addresses first-year students gathered at Reed Green Coliseum on Sunday, Aug. 18. (Photo by Kelly Dunn)

University of Southern Mississippi President Rodney Bennett challenged students gathered for Freshman Convocation on Sunday, Aug. 18 to complete the academic requirements necessary to earn their degrees in four years.

“It is my desire and hope that I will have the opportunity to shake your hands and hand each of you a degree from this fine institution in four years,” said Bennett to an enthusiastic turnout of approximately 1,200 students at Reed Green Coliseum. “You have been given an invaluable gift as a college student. It is your responsibility to make the most of your time here.”

The Freshman Convocation was held in conjunction with several events related to Golden Eagle Welcome Week on the Hattiesburg campus. Over the weekend approximately 1,500 new students moved into residence halls. Sunday’s activities also included the traditional painting of Eagle Walk underneath the stands at M.M. Roberts Stadium.

Southern Miss Student Government Association President Ann Marie Chilcutt assured the freshmen gathered Sunday at Green Coliseum that they were “absolutely in the right place.”

“This is the right school for you without a doubt,” she said. “What you put into this experience will be what you get out of it.”

Incoming freshman Courtney Willamor of Mobile, Ala., stood alongside her new classmates as Welcome Week team leaders led the boisterous crowd in cheers. Willamor hopes to pursue a career in the criminal justice field.

“I just love it here,” she said. “I’ve been to the campus several times before because my cousin Tyra Willamor recently graduated. I am excited about getting involved in community service projects. I’ve always enjoyed doing volunteer work.”

Bennett advised the newcomers to think seriously about the University’s renowned slogan: “To the Top.”

“Ask yourself what ‘To the Top’ means to you?” he said. “Whether that means getting to the top of your class academically, or being a good family member or perhaps an officer on our campus. Give no less than 100 percent all of the time and maximize all the resources available to you here at Southern Miss.”