Convocation aims to connect with community

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Prominent Dixie State University and community figures took the theme “Our Traditions … Our Future” to heart Sunday night as they shared inspirational remarks to inaugurate the 2014–2015 academic year.

President Biff Williams, Mayor Jon Pike, DSU alumna Alana Lee, and Student Body President Gregory J. Layton addressed the crowd of students and community members filling the Cox Auditorium for the seventh annual DSU Convocation. Williams said this year’s convocation continued the tradition initiated by former DSU president Stephen Nadauld — it’s purpose: to galvanize the spirits and aspirations of new and returning students.  

“We have a rich history that each and every one of us has contributed to for the success of this great university,” Williams said, speaking alongside his wife, Kristin Williams. “I hope as we start this new year that we will look at our roles and responsibilities to make this a phenomenal university and continue the tradition of excellence.” 

The strengthening of community-university ties was a primary focus of this year’s convocation, Williams said. Members of the board of trustees, the National Advisory Council, the foundation board, the Alumni Association Board, the Student Alumni Association, and the Student Association and the executive staff, city officials and members of St. George’s clergy representing various religious faiths also attended.

“We have a focus of making St. George that college town that everybody’s excited about — but not just a college town,” Williams said. “We want to make it a university town. We want all the community members to realize DSU is St. George, and St. George is DSU, and together we’re going to make this an unbelievable university.”

Pike addressed the freshman audience members in particular with words of encouragement to succeed in their academic endeavors.

“I’m a freshman too — I was just elected mayor last November, so this is my first year,” Pike said. “I know what you’re going through. But it’s exciting, and my message to you is regardless of where you come from or what your background may be, St. George and DSU will become a great home for you. Trust me.”

Lee, who has experienced achievements from many walks of life — from anchoring live TV at 19 years old, to being crowned Miss Dixie in 2009 and Miss Nevada in 2011, to now operating her own marketing consulting business and working as a licensed real estate agent — shared her recipe for success.

“The mantra I’ve had in my life has always been, ‘Do what you need to do today to get what you want tomorrow,’” Lee said. “If you don’t have a vision, when times get tough, (and) when you don’t feel like you’re good enough … you’re going to lose focus and you’re going to quit. You need to have a vision for what you want to do, what you want to accomplish, and who you want to become.”

Morgan Bybee, a freshman nursing major from Salt Lake City, attended the convocation and said she was motivated by Lee’s remarks to take her first year at DSU will full force. She said Lee’s advice to always maintain a career vision especially resonated with her. 

“[She] made me realize that I need to decide … not just that I want to be a nurse, but exactly what I want to do in nursing, and then I can (focus) everything I do around that so I will end up exactly where I want to be later in life,” Bybee said. “It’s inspiring to know you can do it, no matter what circumstances you come from.”