Students travel to learn Mercer’s history at annual Pilgrimage to Penfield event


Since the 1900s, Mercer University students have made the annual trip to Penfield, Ga. to participate in the historic Pilgrimage to Penfield event. On Oct. 19, students participated in a cemetery tour, gathering in the chapel, dinner and a display of fireworks hosted by the Student Government Association (SGA). Students gathered inside Penfield chapel for a service hosted by SGA members and Mercer faculty. The service started off with a short welcoming speech and prayer by sophomore senator Raymond Partolan. “I can’t help but to think about what kind of footprints and handprints each of you will leave in the large span of Mercer’s history. It’s no surprise that Mercer students change the world,” said Partolan. Ike Ekeke, a senior at Mercer, gave a speech about his past and how he came to choose Mercer. In his speech, Ekeke talked about what impressed him about Mercer when he came to visit before his freshman year. The chapel gathering continued with speeches from Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Douglas Pearson, Senior Vice Provost for Service Learning and Professor Mary Alice Morgan and SGA President Mollie Davis. Former Vice Provost for Institutional Effectiveness and former Dean of Students Barry Jenkins told students during the cemetery tour about the history of Mercer’s founder, Jesse Mercer. The tour also included information about other contributors to Mercer University’s development. “[Mercer University] started off as Mercer Institute for Men. This was a prep-school for boys 17 to 18 years of age and this was a working community, a working farm.” Jenkins explained. Jenkins then went on to point out the graves of Jesse Mercer and his wife along with the graves of Spright Dowell and George Boyce Connell, whose namesakes are Dowell residence hall and Connell Student Center, respectively. Students were enticed to pay close attention to Mercer’s history, as they split up into groups and answered questions competitively. “Overall, what I enjoyed the most was the walk through the cemetery. It was my favorite part because it set a mysterious mood I enjoyed,” said Avery Lewis, a freshman student. Raymond Ko, a sophomore who went to Pilgrimage to Penfield last year said, “Last year my favorite part was the Mercer alumna who talked about her experiences as a student. This year though, I really liked the fireworks because that’s when all the groups got to come together.” Students arrived back on campus with more knowledgeable about their university’s beginnings.