JACKSON, Tenn. – Aug. 18, 2012 – Only one week after moving to Jackson with his family to teach as an assistant professor of athletic training at Union, Jonathan Allen arrived early on campus Aug. 17.
He greeted families and made trip after trip between cars and student apartments, laden with boxes, as he helped freshman students move onto campus.
“Everyone seemed so nice and inviting and welcoming when we moved here,” Allen said. “I wanted to do the same for the new students because everyone has welcomed me. Maybe lending a hand can help alleviate the parents’ and the students’ fears about dropping off and getting dropped off (at college) for the first time.”
Scores of upperclassmen, staff and faculty, like Allen, were on hand to help the new students unpack their vehicles and get settled into their new home.
Many students became the first in their family to attend Union, but that was far from the case for Haley Hudson Hurt, a freshman from Atlanta, Ga.
“I grew up hearing about Union from my grandfather,” Hurt said.
Her father’s parents and several other relatives attended Union. Haley’s connection, however, goes further back than that, and she can even give a relative much credit for the school’s existence. Her great grandfather, John Jeter Hurt, guided Union through two trying times -- the Great Depression and World War II. Union President David S. Dockery called Hurt “one of Union’s most effective presidents in the long history of the university.”
The legacy that John Hurt began, Haley Hurt continued as she joined about 500 other freshmen and 120 transfer students who moved onto the Union campus to begin their collegiate experience.
After moving into their campus apartments, students spent the rest of the day in a variety of orientation activities, such as purchasing textbooks, meeting with financial aid and business office representatives, hearing an introduction from Dockery and meeting with their small Focus groups (Focus is Union’s four-day orientation program).
In the evening, the new students and their families gathered in the G.M. Savage Memorial Chapel for a specially-designed worship service. Greg Thornbury, Union’s vice president for spiritual life and dean of the School of Theology and Missions, challenged students to understand the importance of their education in light of the example set by Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in Daniel 1.
Thornbury said Christian students today are in a similar situation as those young men were in Babylon. Like them, Christian students live in a culture that rejects their core beliefs. He said Union students should be asking, “How are we going to be a people of God in a culture that seems to have lost its way?”
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were prepared to get the attention of the authorities who held power in Babylon by being knowledgeable and skilled, Thornbury said.
“You have to combine the best of the Christian tradition with the best of thought and skilled practices and all kinds of spheres of knowledge,” Thornbury said. “And when you put all those things together, it is an amazing combination that will help you to make your mark in a watching world.”
A Union tradition completed the service. Incoming students sat in the middle of the chapel, while parents, returning students and Union faculty and staff encircled them. Dockery then led in prayer for students and their families. The students said goodbye to their parents then made their way to a nearby reception, where upperclassmen were ready to welcome the freshman class to Union and begin to get to know each student.
By Samantha Adams ('13)