15 pounds of knowledge

By Abby Rhodes
August 24, 2011

Ashley Bendien ’15 loves to transform herself into alternative personas. An active thespian and speech team member in high school, she came to Bradley to join the University’s national champion speech team and study theatre performance.

When Bendien isn’t on stage channeling characters, Justin Jones-Fosu hopes she’ll just be Ashley Bendien. “Don’t be just like anyone. Be better than everyone by being the only you,” said the inspirational speaker during Freshman Convocation Aug. 23.

Jones-Fosu’s keynote address, titled “The Freshman 15: What Every Successful College Student Should Know,” encouraged Bradley’s incoming freshmen to develop a vision for what they want to achieve, to reach outside their comfort zones and achieve a balance between academics and “socialdemics” – all the experiences and opportunities Bradley offers outside the classroom. It will all add up to 15 pounds of knowledge, according to Jones-Fosu, who reminded students that even when things get tough, “there are people who would love to have your bad days.”

“With so many nerves the night before classes start, his message to stay positive and keep at it was really helpful,” said Bendien.

In a revived tradition now two years running, the Freshman Convocation welcomed incoming students as they embark on a four-year journey that will bring challenges and tremendous opportunities. Amid great excitement and a little trepidation, the Class of 2015 received its first directive from the University president: be happy.

“Choose to be happy by making wise, well thought-out choices that are in your best interest,” said President Joanne Glasser. “Think about your future and what will make you happy – not only today, but next week, next year, five years into the future.”

Envisioning success and getting involved on campus was a theme that ran thick throughout the ceremony. In her welcome address, Student Body President Tricia Anklan revealed that she didn’t show up on the Hilltop her freshman year ready for a leadership role. She didn’t even know what she wanted to study, or which of Bradley’s 250 student organizations to join – so she joined all of them.

“Three years later, I’m still getting emails from the underwater basket-weaving club,” said Anklan. “It may take time, but you will find a place here if you make a conscious effort to get the most out of your Bradley Experience.”

For Bendien, being involved will be success and happiness defined. “Happiness will be about getting active in theater and making lifelong bonds while keeping up a good G.P.A.,” Bendien said. “It will be amazing.”

With a perspective like that, she may be in for a Freshman 30.