The first day on a college campus as a first-year student can be quite intimidating, especially when faculty members arrive in full regalia. But at Penn State Brandywine’s convocation, students left with more than a formal academic ceremony under their belt.
Aug. 20 marked the official start to the 2015-16 academic year. Nearly 250 first-year students attended the convocation ceremony and welcome events on campus. Chancellor Kristin Woolever, Director of Academic Affairs Cynthia Lightfoot, Professor of Earth Sciences Laura Guertin, Associate Director of Student Affairs Stephanie Jones and Student Government Association President Olivia Shiner formally welcomed the students to Penn State on behalf of the University and student body.
“Today is the first day you can take charge of your life and your future by listening, learning and participating in this great University,” Woolever said. “Stretch yourselves toward the gateway that is a college degree and take the initiative to learn more.”
At the ceremony, Guertin delivered an energized, pep rally-type welcome address, and urged students to connect what they learn in the classroom to current events going on in the world around them.
“Now that you’re in college, your professors are going to push you to the next level. In high school you learned the what. But in college, we are going to push you to learn the why. … What you learn here will impact not just your life, but the greater world and community.”
The convocation ceremony concluded with the alma mater. Students followed their orientation leaders to academic college and adviser meetings, where they received information about their major and met with advisers for the first time. Students also attended events and workshops before lunch.
At 1 p.m., students enjoyed a barbeque lunch and a keynote address by Barbara Shaiman about social change. Shaiman is the founder of Champions of Caring, a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating and empowering young people to take active roles to improve their community, and Embrace Your Legacy, a program to motivate individuals to take action and create projects for personal growth and social change. She is also the author of “Live Your Legacy Now!”
Shaiman told students to “flaunt” their humanity, always lead with their hearts and continue to strive to make the world a better place.
“You can change the world with a passion and a plan,” Shaiman said. “It takes one person with a good heart to change the world.”
At the end of the day, first-year students left campus having heard two inspiring speeches that encouraged them to learn, make academic connections and influence the world positively. Best of luck to the Class of 2019!