Incoming freshman women participated in the 93rd annual Signing of the Book ceremony August 20 as they gathered in the Bowie Arts Center, recited the school’s honor pledge, and added their signatures to those of generations of Erskine women.
This year’s speaker for the event, Mary Parkinson Connor ’82, wife of former Erskine Board of Trustees Chairman David Connor and mother of freshman Ramsey Connor, traced Erskine connections in her family through her grandfather, grandmother, father, uncle, aunts, and cousins, all whom either attended Erskine, spent their professional careers at Erskine, or both. Her first ancestral link to Erskine predates even the first Signing of the Book.
“In preparation for today’s talk, I calculated that my grandfather, Dr. Gilbert Gordon Parkinson, born in 1868, first set foot on the Erskine College campus in 1885, some 131 years ago, at the tender age of 17,” she told the women.
“These four years in Due West are a unique opportunity unlike any other time in your life,” she said. “So dig in, explore, and commit yourself to your studies.”
She described Erskine’s extracurricular offerings in drama, music, sports, student government and other areas as “great opportunities to experiment and explore, while also building your resumé.”
Connor said she especially enjoyed another opportunity for exploration, Winter Term, which she and her classmates called “Interim.” During one Winter Term, she took a three-week European tour, “an incredible trip that I can remember to this day,” and during another she took a criminology course at the Central Corrections Institute in Columbia. “I was thinking I might be interested in criminal law, but that month taught me otherwise,” she joked.
Contrasting the variety of backgrounds and interests among members of Erskine’s student body with the homogeneous makeup of her high school class, Connor said that at Erskine, “I could be friends with the athletic group or the drama crowd, or even the yuppie cool kids—and all at the same time!”
Speaking about the college experience as a time for reflection, she said she recalls “lingering in the dining hall long after supper, drinking way too much coffee, and discussing various world events and moral issues, which ultimately helped shape the understanding and beliefs I have to this day.”
Friendship is another important aspect of college life, and Connor has stayed in touch with Erskine classmates. “Just last month I got to have lunch in Flat Rock, North Carolina, with six of my closest Erskine buddies, who live in six different cities,” she said. “These are precious friendships with like-minded women, all of whom I would give the shirt off my back or entrust with the raising of my children.”
Connor closed her remarks with some advice for the freshman women, encouraging them to take advantage of Bible and religion classes, small group Bible studies, campus ministries and other ways “to grow your faith.”
“You are living more independently than ever before; you are in charge of your goings and comings, your study habits, your consumptions, your friends,” she said.
“Make the decision now to seek to know your Creator and Lord. It will be the best investment you could ever make,” she continued, adding, “You only get to do college once, so make it count, make it full, make it worthwhile.”
See more photos of this event here.