Stage set, light show planned for Northeastern’s Convocation to kick off semester

President Joseph E. Aoun officially marks the start of the 2022-23 school year Tuesday at Matthews Arena as planners prepare for a “new and fresh” global event. Meanwhile, move-in wraps up and students get ready for classes. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

As the final Northeastern students moved onto the Boston campus and said goodbye to their parents on Monday, the stage was already set for President Joseph E. Aoun to officially kick off the 2022-23 school year at Tuesday’s Convocation. 

Over 3,100 first-year and transfer students will gather at Matthews Arena on the Boston campus at 11 a.m. Tuesday for the Convocation, which will also be livestreamed here and across Northeastern’s global campuses. The hour-long program features speakers, live performances from students, the traditional lighting of the Northeastern torch, and much more. 

Northeastern’s executive director of creative experience and digital engagement Leila Eid is tasked with making sure the Convocation goes off without a hitch. One might wonder, then, how she manages to stay so calm.

“We have a good team here,” she said Monday, as singers tested out the sound system with a rendition of Happy Birthday. 

When asked what it takes to pull together an event like this, Eid said, “Time, people and coffee.” Beginning last Thursday, around 50 Northeastern employees were charged with setting up the space, and unloading the rigging and lighting from trucks. Their hard work paid off: more than 24 hours before the president steps on the stage, all of the video screens and chairs were set up, along with a brand new feature for this year’s event: a catwalk.

“Every year we try to change it up, reinvent, make it new and fresh,” Eid said. This year’s Convocation features an interactive light show that will involve all campuses in a truly global event.

On the other side of the Boston campus Monday students settled in and prepared for the first day of class. Volunteers in red T-shirts continued to help students move in and direct them to other areas of campus. New students came and went on trips, including trolley tours around Boston, New England Aquarium visits, Freedom Trail tours, and a tour of Fenway Park.

Transfer student Lizzie Perez moved into her dorm last week with the help of her parents, and has enjoyed the opportunity to take tours of her new city. 

“I went out yesterday at the aquarium with a few people and afterwards we walked around,” the Chicago native said. “I’m excited to keep doing everything around here. It’s a good city.” She said she is looking forward to doing the trolley tour of Boston, and checking out Trash2Treasure, where students donate items like lamps and mini-fridges for purchase. 

Parents like Lizzie’s were still on campus after helping with move-in, but with classes set to begin in just two days, they were preparing to say their goodbyes.

Maryan Costa helped her daughter Natalie move into White Hall on Sunday, in what Maryan called a “seamless” process. “All the parents were just screaming about how awesome it was, it’s just so efficient,” she said. 

On Monday, they had breakfast, and Natalie hopped on the trolley for a proper tour of Boston while her parents bought T-shirts at the Northeastern bookstore. 

Maryan, who lives in Maryland, said she is sad to say goodbye to her only child. At the same time, she said, “this is her dream school.” 

Northeastern bookstore manager Gretchen Suarez has seen plenty of parents like Maryan over the past couple of weeks. 

“This is an especially busy time; it is one of the busiest days of the year,” she said. Students are buying course books and school supplies, and parents are coming in to grab what Suarez calls “the usual suspects”: Northeastern-branded T-shirts and sweatshirts. 

Suarez said that parents and families often use the bookstore as a meeting point, and parents visit while their kids are doing something else. One mother spent time in the bookstore on Monday while she waited for her son to wake up; Suarez was more than happy to help her kill the time.

“We definitely want it to be a place where people can come hang out,” she said.

The parent rush will subside on Tuesday when President Aoun officially kicks off the fall semester. 

First-year and transfer students will meet for Convocation at Carter Field at 9:45 a.m.; College of Engineering or Bouvé College of Health Science students will arrive directly from their college welcomes.

Fall Fest will kick off immediately following Convocation, and run from noon to 3:30 p.m. Students are invited to explore campus, learn about student organizations, and enjoy food, music and giveaways.

In Oakland, Welcome Week concludes on Tuesday with the livestream of President Aoun’s speech and a traditional president’s luncheon. Oakland students are then invited to dine from food trucks and enjoy a performance from the dance troupe SambaFunk! as well as music from DJ Davey D.

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