Northeastern University on Tuesday morning formally welcomed new students—some 2,800 incoming freshmen, as well as transfer students—to campus at the annual President’s Convocation, held in Matthews Arena. President Joseph E. Aoun and other campus leaders greeted Northeastern’s newest students and urged them to get involved on campus, explore co-op and research opportunities, and chart their own paths.
Here are some highlights:
Warm welcomes all around
Before he addressed Northeastern’s newest students, James C. Bean, the university’s new provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, was himself greeted to a “warm Boston welcome” by the new students.
“You are beginning your college careers in a vibrant, comprehensive, research university, where you will join our faculty and your fellow students in the adventure of learning, extending the boundaries of knowledge, and addressing the challenges of the world outside our walls,” said Bean, who joined Northeastern this summer. “Today you become the newest members of a university community with proud and deep traditions of service and accomplishment.”
Be an explorer
In his Convocation address, Aoun urged students to set sail on their Northeastern experience as “explorers” looking to learn about themselves, their passions, and the world. The university’s experiential education model—which places students in 128 countries and is differentiated by its signature co-op program—will present many opportunities to help them achieve these goals.
“Through co-op, you’re going to know what you’re good at, what you don’t like, and what you like,” he said. “And on a daily basis, you are going to meet students who will share with you their experiences. Co-op is a way of getting you out of your comfort zone.”
One by one, the deans of Northeastern’s colleges were called to the stage, where they welcomed students in their colleges and asked them to stand—each time drawing a loud roar from the crowd. The deans challenged students to embrace opportunities to pursue cutting-edge research, international co-op, and new passions and challenges.
This was a common theme at the President’s Convocation. Student Body President Eric Tyler, CIS/DMSB’16, a combined major in computer science and business administration, urged students to consider joining at least one of the more than 350 student organizations on campus.
“Although you might not know where your involvement might take you, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and try new things,” Tyler said.
When college hands you a lemon…
Two student speakers, Maria Sofia Soto, AMD’16, and Julieta Moradei, E’16, imparted words of wisdom to their new peers as well. Soto offered three lessons: professors make the best allies; don’t be intimidated by research; and utilize all your resources.
Moradei, for her part, noted how getting involved in student clubs and research as a freshman strengthened her position to land co-ops—the first with the structural engineering firm Simpson Gumpertz & Heger, the second and third with Disney World. “If you put forth effort and energy, and hold true passion for what you’re doing, people will respond to that by teaching you and helping you grow,” she said.
To conclude her remarks, Soto explained how “college is like a lemon” and students have four or five years to squeeze out of their college experience as much as possible. “Today you are being handed a lemon,” she said. “How much juice will you have produced by the time you graduate?”
The President’s Convocation began with the a cappella group Distilled Harmony singing “Alma Mater,” and ended with a musical selection from The Nor’easters a cappella group.
Also, Philomena Mantella, senior vice president and CEO of Northeastern’s Global Network, explained the importance of Northeastern’s seal, which features the university’s motto, “Lux, veritas, virtus”— “light, truth, courage”—and a torch. She then introduced a student representative from all five classes to light a torch on stage, symbolizing “the leadership, zeal, and spirit of the university community.” All of the students then lit their own battery-operated candles.
After the President’s Convocation, students flocked to Centennial Common for A Taste of Boston, where they enjoyed food from many of the city’s neighborhoods, including Chinatown and the North End. Music and appearances by Paws and King Husky also highlighted the event.