Young women of the Class of 2017 participated in a 90-year-old Erskine tradition Monday at the annual Signing of the Book ceremony in the Bowie Arts Center. They recited the school’s honor pledge and added their signatures to those of generations of students.
Guest speaker Em Greene Jones ’86, mother of freshman Leila Jones, was a psychology major who married 1985 graduate Neil Jones and “followed him to Washington, D.C., Dallas, Texas, then finally back to Greenville, South Carolina, for good.”
Jones worked in human resources until retiring when her children were born.
A native of St. Petersburg, Florida, she knew she wanted to be a Carolina girl “from the minute I set foot in Bonclarken in North Carolina in 1973.”
Joking about nearly failing to graduate with her class in 1986, Jones said she delayed the completion of her final science requirement until the spring of her senior year, finally signed up for astronomy, but put off the mandatory constellation test—which had to be taken outdoors under a clear night sky—until late in the semester. She was relieved when a succession of cloudy evenings gave way to a clear one, and she passed.
Verses from New Testament letters framed Jones’ remarks.
Citing I Corinthians 13:11, which alludes to putting away “childish things,” Jones told the freshmen that at Erskine, “You’ll have a wonderful chance to grow up.”
Admitting that communication was not as immediate when she was in college as it is today, she urged students—even with the ease of cell phones and email for keeping up with family and friends back home—to get to know people at Erskine.
Noting the message of Galatians 3:28, with its insistence that in Christ there is “neither Jew nor Greek…bond nor free,” she said, “There’s no hierarchy here,” referring to the Erskine community.
“I would encourage you to remember that everyone here is on an equal footing,” she said, regardless of social structures that might have existed in high school.
Paul’s reference in Ephesians 4:15 to “speaking the truth in love,” reminded Jones of an occasion when Genie McDill, then dean of women at Erskine, told her she had four years ahead of her and needed to use her personality and gifts well.
“Be willing to listen, to adapt, to make good choices,” Jones said. “But be careful about judging others.”
She cited Galatians 6:2, in which Paul urges Christians to “bear one another’s burdens,” telling the women, “You will be amazed at what you go through” during four years of college.
Whether Erskine friends’ difficulties are fairly trivial or traumatic, “I would encourage you to support one another,” she said.
Jones also spoke about the admonition of Ephesians 4:32 to be “kind to one another…forgiving one another.” When an offense has been committed, or feelings have been hurt, “My advice is to face things head on,” she said.
“It’s a very safe place to make mistakes,” she said of the Erskine community.
Finally, noting that she “never thought I’d marry a brainiac,” Jones urged trust in God’s providence, citing the claim of Romans 8:28 that “all things work together for good to those who love God.”
Pianist Sharon Bradley of Due West provided music during the ceremony.
Eight seniors led the evening program.
Christine Dumouchel, who serves as a student life assistant, welcomed the freshmen; Hannah Collins, vice president of the Student Government Association, offered the opening prayer; Rachel Whitmire, a member of the leadership honor society Omicron Delta Kappa, introduced the speaker; Brock Sherrod, a member of the Society of Visual Arts, led the recitation of the honor pledge; Katie Busbee, a member of the business organization Enactus, conducted the signing of the book.
Casey Hughes, a member of the Choraleers, led the singing of the alma mater. Nicole Shannon, treasurer of the Student Government Association, offered the closing prayer, and Alex Oakes, chair of the Intersociety Council, adjourned the meeting.
A reception following the ceremony was hosted by Erskine’s literary societies and the Intersociety Council.
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