At the annual President’s Convocation on Tuesday morning, President Joseph E. Aoun, along with other university and student leaders, underscored the diversity of Northeastern’s 119th entering class and the myriad opportunities—from student organizations, to global co-op, to cutting-edge research—that lie ahead.
Aoun welcomed the 2,700 incoming freshmen by pointing to the 88 flags hanging overhead at Matthews Arena that symbolize the number of countries from which the students hail. “It’s the most diverse class in our history, and you made it as such,” he said.
Aoun noted that students will be in charge of their own journeys, with opportunities to change or add majors, discover new fields of study, and explore campus and the world. At a university as diverse as Northeastern, he added, students will have the chance to talk and learn about topics such as diversity, inclusion, and identity—and then explore them further during co-op, Dialogue of Civilizations programs, and other experiential learning opportunities.
At Convocation, the new students were also greeted with a fun video of Aoun visiting Northeastern’s “youngest Huskies” at the Russell J. Call Children’s Center.
Elliot Horen, CIS’18, president of the Student Government Association, urged students to recognize and embrace their and others’ diversity—whether it be their academic majors, states or countries of origin, or sexual orientation.
“The core of Northeastern has always been and always will be its students— students who know that their diversity is a strength,” he said. “At Northeastern, students are united by a simple yet enduring belief—a belief that we are Northeastern.”
Later, Philomena Mantella, senior vice president and CEO of the Northeastern Global Network, expanded upon the university’s global reach. She said more than 700 students are beginning their Northeastern experiences this semester through N.U.in in eight locations across the globe—in Canada, England, Germany, Greece, Australia, and Ireland. Northeastern’s worldwide community, she added, comprises more than 3,000 employers in 150 countries, 40 alumni chapters worldwide, and campuses in Silicon Valley, Seattle, and Charlotte, North Carolina—and soon, in Toronto.
“This network that you now belong to will expand over the course of your lifetime membership and will grow stronger because of each of you,” Mantella said.
The college deans—including Kenneth Henderson, who joined the university this summer as dean of the College of Science—also welcomed students to their respective colleges.
Delivering the student address together, Kaila Corrington, CIS’17, and Neel Desai, SSH’17, highlighted the many benefits of joining one of the some 400 student organizations on campus. They shared how their own involvement has cultivated close friendships and the discovery of new passions. Corrington, a computer science major with minors in mathematics and linguistics, has gotten involved through the Muay Thai group as well as Circle K and NuWIT. And Desai is president of IDEA, Northeastern’s student-run venture accelerator.
After Convocation, students attended Fall Fest, where they had the opportunity to learn about and meet members of many of these organizations.
“When we were in your shoes just a few years ago, we weren’t quite sure what was in store for us,” said Desai, who is an economics major with minors in philosophy and international affairs. “But now we can assure you that when you’re interviewing for your co-ops, you’ll be able to confidently discuss your accomplishments. When catching up with old friends, you’ll be able to speak endlessly about your experiences. And when looking back at your time in college, you will do so without regret, because you are Northeastern.”
They left freshmen with three final takeaways: try new things, step out of your comfort zone, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes; study hard; and seek mentorship.
“You will quickly learn at Northeastern that the world is your campus,” Corrington said.