At Convocation, freshmen are urged to explore the world

Thousands of Northeastern’s newest students, along with faculty and staff, helped the University celebrate the re-opening of Matthews Arena on Monday afternoon, packing the grand old edifice for the annual President’s Convocation.

Northeastern’s 112th entering class was officially welcomed by the University’s academic leaders in full regalia, led by President Joseph Aoun, who challenged students to make a mark on the world—both at Northeastern and throughout their lives. Citing Northeastern’s distinctive experiential approach to education as the best preparation for the real world, Aoun called upon the University’s most diverse class to take advantage of the opportunity to explore the globe in a deep and meaningful way.

“The world is too interesting to ignore,” Aoun said. “And the most powerful way to learn is to integrate study and practice.”

Northeastern students’ unique educational experiences—which include co-op, study abroad, the Dialogue of Civilizations program, and other overseas opportunities in 52 countries throughout the world—give them a one-of-a-kind glimpse into the dynamics of global connectedness that previous generations of students have not had.

The goal, Aoun noted, is not to prepare students for their first post-college job, but rather for a lifetime that will likely include a first, second, third, or even fourth career. In our rapidly changing world, success will hinge on students’ ability to see beyond the bounds of the familiar and develop a global perspective, he said.

“You are starting in a period of worldwide recession,” Aoun explained. “You must explore the world in order to make it a better world, and also to make yourself a better person.”

To watch a video of President Aoun’s remarks, please click here:

Presidential Scholar Jordan Clark echoed Aoun’s message by encouraging his peers to get involved, both on campus and in the world beyond. “Don’t let this time pass without leaving your mark,” said Clark, who recently completed a co-op at the White House Communications Office. “You don’t need to wait until your second or third year. Start now.”

Clark, who also held an internship in the late Sen.Edward M.Kennedy’s office, praised Northeastern for its commitment to urban engagement, pointing to his community service work as a tutor and mentor for high-school students in Charlestown and Roxbury as a prime example of the University’s passion for giving back.

“Northeastern has made me want to do my best to give back,” he said. “Opportunities such as these have made my Northeastern experience amazing.”

Ryan Fox, president of the Student Government Association, also greeted the most accomplished class in University history (the new class includes approximately 40 National Merit and National Achievement scholars; half graduated within the top 10 percent of their high-school class), telling his peers, “We are confident that you will become the next generation of student leaders… One of you could even become our student body president.”

From their very first day on campus, students will have an unparalleled opportunity to build leadership skills, make lasting friendships, and gain experience as leaders, he said. Whether through a cultural organization, fraternity, or club sport, he encouraged the new class to dive headfirst into life at Northeastern.

“With such a diverse student body,” he said, “every student organization is unique and has a special place within the activities of the University. Depending on your interests, we are sure you will find the opportunity to become an active part of the Husky community.”

Provost Stephen Director expounded upon the theme of exploration, citing Northeastern’s interdisciplinary and use-inspired research for its influence on the world beyond the University. Northeastern’s commitment to research provides students with the chance to create solutions to some of society’s most daunting challenges.

“You are beginning your college careers in a great research university,” Director said, “where you will join our faculty and your fellow students in the adventure of extending the boundaries of knowledge and applying your learning to the challenges of the world outside our walls.”

Director also acknowledged assistant clinical professor of physical therapy Leslie Day, and English professor Guy Rotella for both winning the Excellence in Teaching Award, and introduced the University’s college deans, one by one.

Before heading off to a Welcome Week barbecue, students were treated to a rousing musical performance by student a cappella group the Downbeats, followed by the University’s pep band and cheerleading squad.