The Due West Branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) honored 32 outstanding young women from Erskine College and Abbeville County high schools March 11 at the 54th Annual Student Recognition Dinner in the Bell Conference Room on the Erskine campus.
Vice President for Student Services Dr. Robyn Agnew, a member of the Erskine College Class of 1984, was the featured speaker. Agnew told the honorees that her profession is “rewarding and draining at the same time.” Last year, she realized that the drain might be outpacing the reward.
Then she attended a conference designed for faculty, staff, and administrators who work with college students in identifying their vocation and calling, and was inspired to pursue some of the ideas introduced there, eventually taking a semester-long sabbatical to do it.
The conference was framed around Frederick Buechner’s view of vocation: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep joy meets the world’s deep hunger.”
“You are approaching a time of transition,” Agnew told the high school and college seniors.
She urged them to “be an active participant” in the process of discerning a vocation, “identify your talents” and “look beyond yourself.”
Agnew drew three overlapping circles to illustrate the process of discernment.
In the first circle, the questions to be answered are “What gives you joy?” and “What are you passionate about?”
In the second circle, referring to the answers given to the first questions, the questions “Are you good at these things?” and “What are your strengths, talents, and limitations?” need to be asked.
In the third circle, the question is, “Who needs you to do these things?”
The area in which the three circles overlap reveals pursuits that honor a person’s desires and gifts as well as the world’s needs.
“As you’re thinking about what’s next, ask those questions,” Agnew said.
She told the students that while they are in the process of choosing a college, graduate school, or career, “You are well positioned to engage in this inner work.”
Stressing the significance of such discernment, Agnew quoted Thomas Merton, who asked in No Man Is an Island, “Why do we have to spend our lives striving to be something that we would never want to be, if only we knew what we wanted?”
Dr. Randall T. Ruble, president emeritus of Erskine College, attended the banquet with former first lady Molly Ruble. He welcomed AAUW members and honorees and also recognized Professor Emerita of Biology Dr. Jan Haldeman, a leader in the Due West chapter, for being named 2012 South Carolina Wildlife Federation Education Conservationist.
Haldeman gave a brief history of the Due West Chapter of AAUW, and Susan Beverly offered the invocation.
Pam Showalter presented certificates to students from Abbeville High School, Calhoun Falls Charter School and Dixie High School; Haldeman presented certificates to the Erskine College students.
Erskine seniors honored and their subject areas were Erin Tovo and Katie Taylor, art; Rebecca Hornby, Bible; Alicia Bragg, biology; Abby Hope, business; Chandler Adkins and Courtney Balcome, chemistry; Shelbee Cupp, early childhood education; Heather Emch, elementary education; Ellis Evans and Shannon Field, English; Megan Kunkle, history; Emily Morgan Brown, mathematics; Morgan Allison, politics; Gabby Dierickx, psychology; Heather Perry, special education; and Brooke Elizabeth Dodge, sports management.
Abbeville High School seniors recognized were Kasey McNair, English; Devon Bowie, foreign language; Haleigh Chappell, math; Erin Smith, science; and Mattavia Blackwell, social studies.
Calhoun Falls Charter School seniors honored were Anna Campbell, English; Savannah Lewis, foreign language; Hannah Rhodes, math; Eboni Sanders, science; and Catlyn Clegg, social studies.
Dixie High School seniors receiving awards were Maria Lichfield, English; Bobbie-Jo Evans, foreign language; Alyssa Hayes, math; Melanie Smith, science; and Lauren Brown, social studies.