Freshman women followed an 89-year-old Erskine tradition as they participated in the annual Signing of the Book ceremony in the Bowie Arts Center Aug. 29. They recited the school’s honor pledge and added their signatures to a book signed by generations of students who preceded them.
Guest speaker Sharon Bell Griffin ’81, mother of freshman Elinor Griffin, senior Kelley Griffin, and 2010 graduate Laura Griffin, told the freshmen, “Tonight, I come to you first of all as a mom.”
She said she was happy to receive the invitation to speak, at least in part because “it gives me the opportunity to get in a few last words to Elinor.”
Touching on the care provided by the Erskine family, the formation of lasting friendships, and the strong bonds that create sisterhood, Griffin also spotlighted some of the Bible’s advice about wisdom.
Griffin told the women, “You will find that as colleges go, when it comes to being cared for, there’s no place like Erskine,” adding, “There really is an Erskine family.”
Within the Erskine family, which includes faculty and staff members, lifelong relationships are established. “Some of you are already well on your way to making some of the best friends you will encounter in life,” she said.
Citing ways in which faculty members helped her clarify her beliefs—her Bible professor was Dr. W.H.F. Kuykendall, father of Associate Professor of Music Dr. J. Brooks Kuykendall—Griffin also noted that she has remained friends with former admissions director Dot Carter since a work study assignment placed her in Carter’s office during her college days.
“Recently, my 83-year-old mother had lunch with some of her Erskine friends,” she said. “There was a group of seven, and back in the day, they called themselves the 7-Up Club. See, these are friendships that have endured for life.”
Life on campus, and especially life in a residence hall, can boost friendships.
“Here, it will be very easy to be with your friends,” Griffin said. “All of you can pop into each other’s rooms. You pass each other in the hallway and on the stairs.
“You will witness each other’s ups and downs,” she added. “Sometimes, you may even be the cause of the ups and downs in another’s life.”
Such togetherness “can make for some very strong bonds—a sisterhood of sorts, of Erskine friends,” she said.
“Be a friend. Be a sister. In doing so, you will give a valuable gift to others, and you will receive a valuable gift of friendship in return.”
She was recently struck by a scripture verse that employed the term ‘sister’ in an unusual way, revealing that “you can be friends and sisters of something other than people,” Griffin said.
She quoted Proverbs 7:4, which offers this advice: “Say to wisdom, ‘You are my sister,’ and call understanding your intimate friend.”
Listing passages in Proverbs describing wisdom as “life-giving,” “a protection,” “a guide,” “and more valuable than gold and silver,” Griffin noted that wisdom “begins with the acknowledgment of God, the Holy One,” moving on to the realization that we live in a broken world, then the knowledge that “there is a war in my heart” and “I am broken.”
Griffin told about her eldest daughter’s experience, at age two, with a broken doll that her grandfather was able to fix for her. The beginning of wisdom “is like taking your broken doll to God—only, you’re the doll,” she said.
“And you go to Him because you know you’re broken and there’s only one place to be fixed, and that is in the arms of Jesus because He came to bind up that which is broken, and to set people free from the things that keep their hearts and minds imprisoned, and to give hope to those in despair.”
Urging the freshmen to seek “the higher, higher education—wisdom,” Griffin assured them that “God has a curriculum plan for you.”
That curriculum “may include a college degree, and His wisdom will help you see His truth in your classes as you observe His creation in biology or His order in math class or His beauty in a poem you read in English 102 or His government of history in World Civ.”
But, she said, “God’s curriculum includes much more than that. It includes all of the things he allows into your life, even the hard things and the choices you have to make.” And in the perfect wisdom of God, our own gaining of wisdom can continue whether we are engaged in academic studies or not.
Referring to the prayer of Psalm 90:12— “So teach us to number our days that we may present to Thee a heart of wisdom” — Griffin offered some concluding advice.
“At the end of the day, at the end of your college career, at the end of your life, it’s wisdom that will stand,” she said. “So, please…ask the Lord to help you number your days so that you may present to Him a heart of wisdom.”
Senior Sachini Bandara, senior class president, welcomed the freshmen; senior Heather Emch, president of the Student Christian Association, offered the opening and closing prayers; senior Leighton Morgan, a student life assistant, introduced the speaker.
Senior Shelbee Cupp, a member of the Orientation Staff, led the recitation of the honor pledge; seniors Chandler Adkins, chair of the Student Life Council, and Victoria Unthank, a member of the Orientation Staff, conducted the signing of the book. Senior Schadell Brooks, editor of The Mirror, led the singing of the alma mater, and Emch adjourned the meeting.
Following the ceremony, a reception was hosted by Erskine’s literary societies and the Intersociety Council.