Presbyterian College celebrated the launch of its 142nd academic year by honoring the school’s senior class and inducting its newest students into a community of honor.
Class of 2022 witnessed the Class of 2025 recite the College’s honor pledge and sign the Roll of Honor in a traditional ceremony led by PC’s Honor Council.
The College’s newest faculty and staff also participated, including new president Dr. Matthew vandenBerg and new provost Dr. Kerry Pannell.
Addressing the freshman class, vandenBerg said it is perfectly normal for them to feel nervous about the beginning of their college careers but reminded them that they are ready.
“You’ve worked hard and you’re resourceful,” he said. “… You’ll find your calling. Your purpose.”
vandenBerg said the members of the freshman class he’s met are “poised, eloquent, and thoughtful” and care about serving others. He also told them they have found the right place to be college students.
“You could not have picked a better moment to be here at PC,” he said. “Our best days are ahead of us.”
In his keynote address, “Connecting to Purpose,” PC alumnus Jacob Evans ‘17 recounted his own college experiences and how they led him to pursue a master’s degree in health administration and a position as service line director for Prisma Health.
Asked to lead the local incident response to COVID-19 in Laurens at Laurens County Hospital, Evans said even while he was forced to postpone his own wedding, he remembered the college’s motto: While We Live, We Serve.”
“I realized it was our time to serve,” he said. “Our duty to do so.”
Through his leadership, Evans helped establish the state’s first rural mass vaccination site in Laurens County, which administered approximately 10,000 does.
Even through a season of change like that presented by the global pandemic, Evans challenged students to be resilient and to “take your resiliency with you.”
Several milestones also were celebrated during the opening convocation.
Dr. Suzie Smith ’82, the Robert Vance Professor of Economics and Business Administration, became the first female faculty member in PC’s history to carry the college’s mace during the convocation’s processional.
Pannell announced the winners of the college’s Barnett Research Paper Competition.
- Winner: Hayley Steves – “The Creolization of Characters in Erna Brodber’s Myal (Dr. Emily Taylor, adviser)
- Runner-up: Mary Katherine Kelley – Seeking Domestic Change on a Foreign Front: An Examination into the Experience of African American Soldiers in the Vietnam War (Dr. Michael Nelson, adviser)
Natural Sciences Division
- Winner: Kobie Kirven – “The Effects of Dietary Iron on the Taxonomic and Function Composition of the Gut Microbiome in Zebrafish, Danio rerio” (Dr. Stuart Gordon and Dr. Margo Petukh, advisers)
- Runner-up: Kaitlin Roberts – “Effect of Increases in Dietary Iron on the Taxonomy of the Zebrafish Gut Microbiome, Danio rerio” (Dr. Stuart Gordon and Dr. Margo Petukh, advisers)
Social Sciences Division
- Winner: Tara Brophy – “The History of Psychological Research on Caregiver’s Burden (Dr. Stephanie Freis, adviser)
- Runner-up: Luca Ziegler – “Grit and its Relationship to Athletic Performance” (Dr. Drew Brandel, adviser)
This year’s overall winner was Kobie Kirven,