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Columbia Missourian

Stephens College to hold convocation Thursday

September 2, 2008 | 5:43 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Stephens College will officially open for its 175th anniversary on Thursday. Stephens alumna Vice Admiral Nancy E. Brown, the highest-ranking female officer ever to serve in the U.S. Navy, will be the convocation's keynote speaker. Brown graduated from Stephens in 1973 with a degree in education.

"At Stephens, one of our big pride points is the fact that we have a wide network of alumnae that are really the strength of the college," said Sara Fernandez Cendon, media relations manager for Stephens College. "Something that our students find valuable is that they can connect with alumnae all over the world and be inspired by them."

Brown is the director for the Command, Control, Communications and Computer Systems. She has dedicated 34 years to the Navy. Her decorations include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Medal, the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star Medal, among others.

Past speakers at Stephens' convocations have included 1997 graduate Nicole Facciuto, the head designer on HGTV's "What's your Sign? Design" and 1982 graduate Anne-Louise Wallace, a freelance stage manager who has worked on "The Today Show" and the Olympic Games.

Last fall, Rebecca Shaw, a 1972 graduate who is now the executive vice president for Spaeth communications in Dallas, was the keynote speaker.

The hope in inviting alumnae to speak is that students are able to "see how Stephens has changed, but in some ways remained the same," Fernandez Cendon said.