Converse Welcomes Alumna for Founder’s Day, Presents Highest Awards
April 30, 2019
In celebrating the founding of Converse College this year, the community gathered to hear a 2007 graduate share her advice on creating a community in a world where there are so many barriers to engaging with each other. The Student Government Association also unveiled their theme for the coming year, “Sharing The Past, Empowering the Future,” expressing their desire to inspire students to not only celebrate Converse’s past but to also look towards the future with fresh new eyes. Two pillars of the Converse community were honored with the College’s most prestigious awards: Rhonda Mingo with the Spirit of Converse Award and Jane McRae Jackson Avinger ’62 with the Dexter Edgar Converse Award. Mrs. Avinger was also honored the previous evening during the Silver Soirée donor gala.
Keynote Address by Dr. Grace Bagwell Adams ’07
Dr. Grace Bagwell Adams ’07 is an assistant professor of health policy in the Department of Health Policy and Management in the College of Public Health at the University of Georgia (UGA).
After majoring in History and Political Science at Converse College, Grace earned her Master of Public Administration and PhD in Public Policy at UGA. Her expertise is in public policy analysis and program evaluation, and all of her work has the common thread of examining how to mitigate vulnerability. Her current projects include work on the SNAP (food stamp) program, the opioid epidemic, and serving as Principal Investigator for the Athens Wellbeing Project.
As a researcher and teacher, Grace applied her experience with community problem solving through public policy, to focus her Founder’s Day speech on ways to create meaningful community engagement. She explained: “Each of us must find our own voice, and once it is found, we must not hesitate to use it to connect with one another in an active way. This begins with a choice to participate–to see yourself as being empowered to initiate change.”
Presentation of Dexter Edgar Converse Award
This year, Converse honored Jane McRae Jackson Avinger, Class of 1962, with the Dexter Edgar Converse Award. Jane’s service as a leader and altruist, along with her passion for beauty and the arts, has left a lasting impression on the College, its students, and the greater community far and wide.
Throughout her life, Jane has been a steadfast supporter of Converse and its students. She served as President of the Alumnae Association and as a member of the Converse Board of Trustees. Her generosity and strong commitment to helping others led Jane and her classmates Marian Nisbet ’62 and Anne Boyer ’62, to establish the Winged Victory Scholarship on behalf of their class, dedicated in memory of Anne Lynne Holcombe Chapman ’62 and Patsy Peche Cornelius ’62.
Raised in Cheraw, South Carolina, she began her studies at Converse College in the Fall of 1958.. She went on to complete a degree at the University of South Carolina and married Bob Avinger in the summer of 1962. They have two children, Mary Avinger Montgomery and Robert L. Avinger III, and six grandchildren.
Cassidy Rindge was recognized as the 2019 recipient of the Weisiger Cup during the Founder’s Day service on April 25 in Twichell Auditorium. The student-athlete who receives this award is a young woman who has a proven record of leadership and community building skills, is a valuable member of the campus community and an asset to her team. Rindge’s name will be added to the sterling silver trophy that is permanently housed in the Weisiger Center.
A Religion Major with an Interfaith Minor, Rindge is also a member of the Valkyries swim team. She has led her team as captain and is a member of the school record for 400 Medley Relay.
Academics have been her first priority throughout Rindge’s Converse career. Since her freshman year, she has consistently been on the Dean’s List and Conference Carolina Presidential Honor Roll. She is also a member of the Nisbet Honors Program, Phi Sigma Iota Honors Society and served as Student Chaplain 2017-2019.
A leader for her teammates and classmates, Rindge is also a community servant, volunteering for Habitat for Humanity, Meals on Wheels, Kindred Hospice, Kudzu Coalition, and Elite Homecare.