Today, I am especially proud to be a Seminole. As part of the Student Alumni Association Leadership Council at Florida State, one of our duties is to volunteer at presidential events and other events involving FSU alumni. This weekend is Emeritus Weekend, which honors alumni who graduated 1964 and earlier. 50 years have passed since these Seminoles walked this campus, and yet this university is still united.
Part of this ceremony was dedicated to inducting three new members into the Circle of Gold, which is one of the highest honors at Florida State. “The Circle of Gold recognizes worthy individuals who, through their service and achievements, personify the university’s tradition of excellence,” FSU’s website reads. As a current student, it was such a privilege to be able to hear such inspirational people speak.
My favorite speech was given by Dr. Janet Wells, who graduated in 1942 from Florida State when it was a women’s college. (Not many people know that Florida State University was called the Florida State College for Women from 1909 to 1947.) Dr. Wells was heavily involved as an undergraduate; she played softball, volleyball, and swam for FSU. She later taught physical education and coached volleyball at FSU. She began her speech by singing the chant that the athletes would sing at the end of every game. Throughout her speech, she talked about the struggles of “carrying an academic suitcase and an athletic suitcase at the same time.”
Dr. Wells told one story of a hurricane that caused the university to have to close the campus. It was her duty to ensure the campus was cleared and everyone was safe. During the storm, she stood outside in the pouring rain and directed students where to go. One car pulled up, and she ran to the window and yelled, “The campus is closed! You have to leave now!” There was a man in the car, who looked at her in a peculiar way. He told her that he was the new president of the university, and hadn’t been inducted yet.
When Dr. Wells told us this, everyone began to chuckle–until she said, “And then I told him, “Nice to meet you, sir. Now get out of here!” Then, everyone burst into laughter. It amazed me to see such a strong, bold woman with such a courageous spirit and think of what that interaction must have been like.
I love hearing these stories because they’re little pieces of our history. Every student has gotten thrown into Westcott Fountain on his or her birthday; every student has sang the Fight Song during a football game; every student is united by the same bond of being a part of the Seminole community. These traditions are really what make this university so profound.
And witnessing these Seminoles, who graduated more than 50 years ago, receive such an honorable award makes me so undeniably proud to attend Florida State University.