Opening Convocation Livestream

Watch the 139th Opening of the College ceremony live. Saturday, August 20 at 7 p.m.


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Signature Programs

Beyond the Common Reader 2022

The Girl Who Smiled Beads Immersion, 2022
Serenbetz Leadership Immersion Award

Incredible. Sobering. Amazing. Enlightening. These were just a few of the words used to describe The Girl Who Smiled Beads immersion in Chicago, Illinois. 

This immersion experience was inspired by the fall 2021 common read, The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya and Elizabeth Weil. In this book, Wamariya recounts her experience as a Rwandan child refugee fleeing war and genocide in her country. The immersion provided an experiential learning component to FWS that allowed students to understand the global awareness character traits addressed in the pages of The Girl Who Smiled Beads in a more sophisticated and critical way.

Led by Denise Carrick Hedges and Dr. Mary Mba, twelve students volunteered with GirlForward, a nonprofit that supports girls who have been displaced globally by conflict; visited the Ukrainian Museum to learn about the Ukrainian genocide and immigration to the US; visited the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center to meet with survivor Ralph Reybeck; and considered ways they can make a difference in their own communities.

Tap here to view photos from the immersion!

Beyond the Common Reader 2021

Just Mercy Immersion, 2021
Serenbetz Leadership Immersion Award

This immersion experience was inspired by the fall 2020 common read, Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. In this book, Stevenson recounts his early years working as a lawyer to defend poor, marginalized, and even wrongfully-accused and imprisoned individuals in the South. The immersion allowed students to understand the personal and social responsibility character traits addressed in the pages of Just Mercy in a more sophisticated and critical way. 

Eight selected students traveled to Montgomery, Alabama to experience The National Memorial for Peace and Justice, The Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration, and met with staff at the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI). An unexpected treat was meeting Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy and EJI founder, walking along a street near the museum. Mr. Stevenson was gracious enough to visit briefly and take a picture with the group.



Additional Programs


This annual event is meant to compliment the first-year writing seminar curriculum and is required of all first-year students and open to the all students, faculty, and staff. The purpose is to expose our campus to people who are leading change efforts in their communities in order to inspire and empower our students to work for change in their own communities.


Throughout the academic year students are invited to learn from selected guest speakers and/or attend excursions to explore the threads of women’s leadership, social responsibility, or global awareness.