By Jacob Waring
1. What is your favorite memory as a student at Southern?
Jamie Kelley: I was one of the lucky students chosen for FLEX [Freshmen Leadership Experience] program. My favorite memory was the second day [of the program], cause it’s where I met one of my favorite friends.
Carolyn Vanacore: My best memory is the opportunity to bring women and girl sports into the forefront.
2. What was attending college like during your era?
JK: Amazing. [It was] overwhelming sometimes, but in the best way possible. It’s a lot, but, I don’t think I would’ve gotten this experience anywhere else. So, I’m really, really glad that I’ve chosen to come here.
CV: There was a tremendous progress. I think each year we were, as students, able to convince people that we wanted more from the program and were talking about preparing us to do something. We just didn’t want this degree that just said ‘we went to school for four years.’
3. What were some of the traditions you had participated in during your time at Southern?
JK: We were the first class to go walk through the [Founder’s Gate]. I think that’s a really big deal now. It was back then because it was like you were being accepted into the Southern community. You had all the facility, like the [orientation ambassador] and peer mentors. They clapped you in. It was an amazing moment because you weren’t walking into a campus, but into a family.
CV: I think our role was to make traditions, and to make inroads and to prove to administration that [women] were worthy of competing with schools.
4. What advice would you give to future students?
JK: Get involved. Experience everything and anything, even things you normally wouldn’t try. I never pictured being part of a class government. I’m really glad I did it here and I took that leap because it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.
CV: The best advice is to look at yourself and to decide what you want to do with your own life. I knew very early on that I wanted to be involved with education. Look at your skills, look at how marketable they may be, how they will fit in the outside world and into your life.
5. What was the campus’ atmosphere like?
JK: Accepting. I think that [is] one of the best parts of being here, especially that we call ourselves the social justice campus. We really strive to be the best social justice campus that we can be.
CV: There was really no campus. There was a classroom building and there was the administration building. Even for all our required sports, we were using the [YMCA] down the road. Every year we [helped] create a program that was viable today.
6. What do you think remained the same between 1952 to 2019?
JK: We started off with the idea of teaching future teachers, and then it became teaching future [students] to be anything they can [possibly] be. I think that goal to teach people and help people grow is something significant that stuck through all the years of Southern’s growth.
CV: Intensity and commitment.
7. What are your thoughts on how Southern has changed throughout its 125 years?
JK: We used to be this small little teacher’s college and we became this university that opens its arms to all sorts of educational fields. We got bigger and, in some respect, we got louder. Especially when it comes to social justice.
CV: It’s gotten better, to be very plain. I’ve been here since Dr. Hilton Buley was here. I worked with Dr. James Moore, who was my mentor. Everyone of those administers had their part in building this university.
8. What organizations did you participate in?
JK: I’m senior class president, president of Pre-Law Society, member of the ZDE and currently in College Democrats. I am a RA in North Campus, and that’s definitely one of the best things I’ve done here.
CV: There were not many organizations to attend. There was no place to have events. There was not a great opportunity. I will say that at this stage of the game, I’m still very close with my classmates. When I talk to them, it was like yesterday.
9. What was the one life lesson you learned?
JK: Have an open mind, because that sets the tone for everything in your entire life. When you submerse yourself in experiences and places you’ve never considered, you’d learn more than you ever could if you didn’t.
CV: I’ve gained a confidence that there’s nothing that I can’t do.
10. What do you view as your biggest accomplishment as a student?
JK: Stepping outside of my comfort zone, I think is my biggest accomplishment.
CV: As a student, I did what I had to do as a student. The next step is the better accompaniment because I became the director of health, P.E. and recreation and through that role, I was able to assist anyone who needed help.