Take advantage of the small classes the College has to offer, ask questions, go above and beyond all expectations — these were among the many pieces of advice given during Monday morning’s convocation ceremony, in which the freshmen officially became members of the College community.
During the ceremony, which took place on Quimby’s Prairie, representatives from the faculty, alumni association and the student body shared anecdotes of their experiences at the College, offered advice, and explained what the College community has to offer.
“We have committed to the creation of an open, inclusive and welcoming community where leadership is a shared responsibility and privilege,” President R. Barbara Gitenstein said in her welcoming speech. “We prize diversity and have a full appreciation of the cultures of the world.”
Although the College has changed over the years, including five name changes, the faculty and staff have always taken pride in their students.
“The College of New Jersey gathers some of the very best students from the state and the nation and provides them with the resources and opportunities to become leaders in their chosen fields,” Gitenstein said. “As you participate in shaping our college community, you must continue to challenge yourself and others. You owe that to one another…You owe that to yourselves.”
Cynthia Curtis, president of the Faculty Senate, spoke on behalf of the faculty. She advised freshmen not to limit themselves and to take classes beyond their major.
“Ultimately, your professional success and your ability to contribute to substantive arguments and informed opinions as responsible citizens of a democracy will be determined by the breadth, as well as the depth, of your knowledge,” Curtis said. “The most important thing you can take away from TCNJ is a love of learning and an interest in a great diversity of ideas.”
On behalf of the Alumni Association, president Megan Flanagan (‘03 graduate) shared an anecdote from her own College experience.
During her senior year of high school, she visited 20 different colleges in and out of state. Although her parents had wanted her to go to the College, she didn’t think she had to attend the same school both her parents went to that was just 12 miles from her home. However, when she arrived at the College, “something clicked … it just felt right,” she said.
She said that while the name of the College has changed multiple times, the legacy has not. She’s envious of the Class of 2017 today, but not jealous, because she had amazing experiences as a student and she continues to have great experiences as an active alumna.
Flanagan then presented the Class of 2017 banner, which will be hung in the Brower Student Center to represent the best years of the students’ lives.
After the presentation, Student Government president Tyler Liberty spoke on behalf of the current students at the College.
“Even though I can’t remember what was said during my convocation ceremony, I know that from that day on I had found my home. I knew that my decision to attend TCNJ would change my life in many ways,” he said.
During their time here, Liberty said, students will learn to embrace their new home, to immerse themselves in uncomfortable situations, and to push themselves to new horizons.
As a final piece of advice, he said, “Don’t just break the status quo, shatter it.”