Praising them for their choice to attend Heidelberg and a higher education path, health care giant Dr. Alvin Jackson told more than 400 incoming students that the time has come when “preparation meets opportunity.” Jackson, the former director of the Ohio Department of Health and a friend of the university, was the keynote speaker at the university’s Opening Convocation Tuesday (Aug. 28). Convocation is the official opening of the 2012-13 academic year, the 163rd in Heidelberg’s history.
“Your challenge while you are here is to prepare yourselves for the great work and challenges that lie ahead of you,” Jackson said, reflecting on his own college journey that began some 44 years ago in the deep South. He recalled boarding a Greyhound bus with all his possessions and a message from his grandmother to “go and do well.”
Jackson, who has practiced in Fremont, Ohio, and is respected for his medical care and advocacy of the Latino migrant farm community in northwest Ohio, took his grandmother’s message to heart and ended his freshman year with the highest GPA in his class. The university president took note of his potential and offered him a scholarship to study in Europe.
“To the freshmen, I say, ‘Someone is always watching you,’ so prepare yourself for the great tomorrow … because all kinds of challenges and solutions await your help,” said Jackson, who received an honorary doctorate from Heidelberg in 2004 and helped the university celebrate the dedication of Adams Hall in 2010.
As they make preparations, he advised them to guard their humanity, their moral force and never underestimate the role service can play in another person’s life. He also encouraged them to take good care of themselves and “create a balance where the spiritual, physical and mental all come together.”
Incoming freshmen, numbering about 350, and transfer students, numbering about 60, were officially welcomed into the Heidelberg community during the traditional pinning ceremony.
The students also received official greetings from President Rob Huntington and Provost David Weininger. The president told the incoming students, several hundred upperclass students and faculty and staff that the diversity of the Class of 2016 “definitely makes us a better school.”
Among the class:
- 10 percent are from legacy families
- 14 percent are minorities
- 16 percent are from out of state
- 20 percent are Heidelberg Scholars
- 25 percent are first-generation college students
Huntington encouraged each student to get involved early. “Do not sit on the sidelines of y our passions and potential while in college.”
Heidelberg, he added, stands ready to “continue our purpose to help our students prepare for great lives.”