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At Convocation, freshmen urged to embrace the ‘Northeastern advantage’

As the President’s Convocation drew to a close on Tuesday, Matthews Arena was still in full-on celebration mode, transformed into a sea of red and black led by Athletics Director Peter Roby, the pep band and cheerleaders, with Northeastern mascot Paws and his Siberian Husky counterpart, King, receiving cheers that rivaled the raucous energy of Northeastern’s fight song, “All Hail Northeastern.”

But as freshmen moved across campus for a barbecue at Cabot Cage, they reflected on the messages and advice shared with them during the annual event that marks the ceremonial start of their Northeastern careers.

“I liked that everyone stressed that everything is wide open for us,” said freshman Ryanne Olsen, a political science major. “Right now, anything and everything is possible.”

Convocation speakers urged students to take intellectual risks and push themselves to succeed in ways they might now be unable to even imagine.

“They said really focus on making the most during your time here and do all you can to learn about and explore the world,” said freshman Joe Nania, who has not yet declared a major.

Earlier, President Joseph E. Aoun had urged members of the University’s 114th Class to embrace the “Northeastern advantage” by combining study with opportunities for professional work, research and service around the globe.

“We believe that learning is not confined to the classroom. In order to learn, you need to integrate study and practice, whether you are in Boston, Los Angeles, Johannesburg, Norway or India,” Aoun said. “Go out, explore the world and bring back what you’ve learned.”

Throughout Convocation, freshmen were introduced to the vast array of opportunities and resources available to them. Michael Sabo, president of the Student Government Association and a criminal justice major, advised freshmen to investigate the more than 200 student organizations on campus.

“I’m sure you will find the opportunity to become an active part of the Husky community. From your very first day on campus, you will learn that our organizations are much more than clubs — and that you will have opportunities to build leadership skills and make lasting friendships,” Sabo said.

In the student address, Kelsey Bacon, a junior and double major in history and international affairs, inspired students to discover themselves at Northeastern as she has. Before attending Northeastern, Bacon was an aspiring actress in New York City working at an accounting office, and in her first semester she considered pursuing careers as a high school history teacher, a Russian language interpreter and an epidemiologist. But a combination of classroom study and experience — a course on the Soviet secret police and a Dialogue of Civilizations program in Armenia — sparked a passion for global politics and transformed her thinking of the world.

Bacon encouraged the new freshmen class to explore their own interests and discover new ones.

“Take advantage of Northeastern and everything it has to offer,” said Bacon, who will begin a co-op this semester at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C.