By Jordan Beach 

For the past 21 years, new students entered their time at Reinhardt University by attending the New Student Induction Ceremony. The traditional lived on through a virtual format in light of the pandemic this year. 

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Zaine Hedge ’11

Interim President Mark A. Roberts and Dr. Walter May, dean of students, welcomed the Class of 2024 on Thursday, Aug. 20 in a virtual New Student Induction Ceremony. The ceremony began with a prayer from Director of Spiritual Life and Service, Josh Garner. 

“To mask or not to mask, that’s the question. Shall I distance, or shall I come close? These are the inquiries of our day,” said Roberts. “Such questions have been politicized and needlessly puts a wedge between us. This division needlessly draw us out of our pursuit of work that’s real, the work that is meaningful. The work that, as the apostle Paul would say, transforms minds.  

“The honor pledge that we commit to today sets up for our community the opportunity for recognition by highlighting the honorable achievement in teaching and learning,” Roberts continued. “It sets up an opportunity for us to express our dignity by ascending to a high ideal, regardless of their differences. The honor pledge sets up an opportunity for us to discipline ourselves, to limit our freedom. It sets us up for an opportunity for us to act with integrity, with wholeness, so that our collective spirits recognize who we are and dignifies who we are, and judges who we are as worthy – worthy of a noble pursuit we call higher learning.” 

The keynote speaker was alumnus Zaine Hedge, who offered his words of wisdom to the incoming students. Hedge graduated from Reinhardt in 2011 and served as Student Body President. Since then, Hedge has been practicing law for six years and is a co-owner and partner of Hedge Law Office, LLC, focusing on criminal defense. 

“As you begin your college career, I would do this – live outside the box. As you transition from high school to college, one thing is certain: you are now the true master of your own destiny. If you want to achieve your dreams, whatever they are, go for it. Fly higher than ever before,” said Hedge. “I tell you that your chances will exponentially increase if you live outside the box.”