In preparation for the beginning of the fall semester today, Stanislaus State held its first Freshman Convocation since 2004 on Monday, welcoming 800 incoming freshmen to the university.
“We brought you together in the amphitheater today because we hope all of you assemble here in this venue again in four years with your caps and gowns so we can present you with your degrees,” said Stanislaus State President Ellen Junn at the ceremony, which was her first formal address since becoming president on July 1.
Just as commencement celebrates the end of a student’s educational journey, convocation is something that President Junn brought back to the university’s campus this year in order to commemorate the journey’s beginning. Not only does the institution of the event create a new university tradition, but it also ensures that new Stanislaus State students feel at home in their new environment.
“Even though the college experience, at first, may be a little bit different and strange, understand that your professors here are among the best in the state,” Junn said. “Don’t be afraid of failure. Your professors have high expectations of you, but they also are there to help you.”
The hour-long ceremony, held in the university’s amphitheater, featured several speakers in addition to Junn, including Vice President for Enrollment and Student Affairs Suzanne Espinoza, University Provost James Strong and alumni speakers Adrian Harrell and Edgar Garcia. Motivation was a main theme in each of the speakers’ speeches, as well as encouragement for students to take advantage of the opportunities and assistance available to them.
“Do you think those athletes were gold medal-ready on their first day of training? Of course not,” Strong said. “Their journey to the Olympics was achieved in thousands of small steps and that also will be the case with your journey here at Stan State.”
“I want you to think of the single person who will have the biggest impact on your success here at Stan State,” Junn said. “It’s yourself. You are the most important person because it’s you who has to go to class, do the reading, study, write papers, take exams and take the final. You are in control of your destiny.”
Following the ceremony, the incoming Class of 2020 took a group picture and travelled to the University Quad for a freshman fair, which included free food, caricatures, photo booths and giveaways. Various university clubs, groups, organizations and departments set up tables in the quad as well, giving freshmen the opportunity to see what resources will be available to them throughout their years at Stanislaus State.
“The event today has helped me realize the kind of opportunities and experiences that the future may offer me,” said freshman Ezekiel Zuniga, who had his free Class of 2020 shirt draped over his neck as he took in the sights and sounds of the day.
Freshmen weren’t the only students on campus, with many upperclassmen taking time out of their day to mingle with their new Warriors.
“I’m a little jealous,” said Leroy Coles, who was on campus with his Kappa Sigma fraternity brother Cristian Patino to meet the incoming freshman. “I wish we would’ve had something like this to get to know more people when I was a freshman.”
The importance of the event after having been gone for 12 years was evident in the smiles on incoming freshmen’s faces as they won prizes and mingled with new acquaintances.
“Without this event, students would start the first day of class and say, ‘Where do I go?’” said Jill Tiemann-Gonzalez of student affairs. “They’ll come in knowing that there are support services here and that the campus can help them; we’re hoping now they’ll know where to go from the very beginning.”