COLUMBIA — Stephens College officially began the new school year Thursday with their annual opening convocation.
More than 500 students attended the ceremony, as well as alumni and faculty and staff members, to honor the college’s 174th anniversary.
This year, about 285 new students are attending Stephens and total enrollment is at more than 1,000 students, a 15 percent increase from last year.
Stephens President Wendy Libby opened with welcoming remarks for new students for the upcoming school year.
“Today represents our first opportunity of the year to gather ceremoniously, to celebrate Stephens’ rich, nearly 175 years of history, and to stand together, full of hope and promise, for the future and for you — our students,” she said.
Student Government Association President Lindsey Weber and Dean of Liberal Arts Tina Parke-Sutherland also spoke at the ceremony. Weber said that she is excited about the changes at Stephens over the past three years and Parke-Sutherland described Stephens as a “magical place.”
Rebecca Shaw, a Stephens College alumna and the current vice president of Spaeth Communications in Dallas, was the keynote speaker for the convocation. Shaw graduated from Stephens in 1972 with a business degree and has since become an award-winning writer and a public relations and communications executive.
In her speech, Shaw explained how Stephens has influenced her life since she graduated.
“Stephens gave me leadership opportunities that I didn’t know I could have,” she said. “Stephens forever shaped my character and values.”
After the convocation, freshman Cecily Haubuer said that she is excited to start her first year.
“I came to Stephens because I like the environment and the fact that it focuses on women’s education, which I think is very important,” she said.