Nashville Mayor Megan Barry gave a brief speech to incoming freshmen to kick off SERVE during the last day of Welcome Week Tuesday morning.
SERVE is a community service initiative that is part of the Towering Traditions orientation program for incoming freshmen. The goal is to encourage them to start off their college career in the mindset of giving back. This year’s initiative was aimed at helping Nashville public high schools.
Barry kicked off her speech by welcoming students to Belmont and Nashville.
“You’ve got four years to make a huge difference while you’re here,” Barry said. “That huge difference can be made with your classmates, with the folks you’re going to interact with every day and around your city — this great city where Belmont is.”
Barry also spoke about Monday’s solar eclipse, suggesting that despite the feeling of smallness the eclipse may have brought, students should never be wary of making a big difference.
“Don’t be small, be big,” said Barry. “You have a chance to impact this little piece of the universe here for the next four years.”
Barry also addressed larger issues of equity, diversity and inclusivity here in Nashville.
“Make sure that everything you’re doing in Nashville reflects the values that we have about being a warm and welcoming city,” Barry said. “Where we celebrate the fact that we have 120 languages in our schools, where we have the largest Kurdish population outside of Kurdistan, where we welcome those who are called New Americans to our community every day.”
Barry closed by emphasizing students’ individual power to make a difference in others’ lives by briefly touching on her son Max’s recent death.
“About three weeks ago I lost my son. He’d just graduated from college, and he overdosed,” Barry said. “If you see somebody in your life, in your time here at Belmont, that is struggling, reach out. Don’t wait.
If you see somebody that needs help, make sure you make that connection. If you see someone that needs a hand, please extend yours.”