At convocation, President Aoun tells incoming Northeastern undergraduates to embark on ‘journey of reinvention’

A crowd of students in Class 125 T-shirts cheer and take photos while confetti falls around them.
Photo by Alyssa Stone/Northeastern University

President Joseph E. Aoun welcomed new undergraduate students to Northeastern during Wednesday’s convocation ceremony, telling members of the university’s 125th class that they represent the future of the institution.

Head shot of President Joseph E. Aoun.
President Joseph E. Aoun welcomes students to convocation on Sept. 6, 2023. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

“This class is a special class,” Aoun told the 3,500 students at MGM Music Hall at Fenway on Lansdowne Street in Boston. “You embody the generations that have gone before you, and you are the role models for the generations that follow you. And you will shape the future of this institution. This institution is looking at you to guide it into the future.”

Aoun also told the students to take advantage of the opportunities provided by the university, advising them to embark on a “journey of reinvention” knowing that they would be supported by the Northeastern community.

“When you get out of your comfort zone and you stretch yourself, your journey is not going to be linear,” Aoun said. “You’ll stumble, you’ll fall, but the community is here to support you — your fellow students, the faculty, the staff, the alumni worldwide will be with you, will be there for you.”

Northeastern’s convocation ceremony is an annual event that officially marks the start of the academic year and introduces new undergraduate students on all campuses to the university. 

The London campus held a convocation ceremony Tuesday morning, while the Oakland campus gathered later Wednesday evening.

The ceremony showcased the diversity, global reach and opportunities of Northeastern.

Dance and musical performances represented several cultural traditions, a video showed the flags of the over 70 countries represented by the class of 2027, and deans and student speakers offered advice and welcomed the new students.

“Today you have unparalleled opportunities across our campuses — our many campuses — to learn from our renowned faculty and interact with accomplished peers and inspiring co-op mentors,” Provost David Madigan said. “Welcome to your next chapter.”

Mary Ludden, the university’s senior vice president for global network and strategic initiatives, likewise welcomed students.

“Today you join a truly global university,” Ludden said. “We welcome you to our world Northeastern community. You are all Huskies, and Northeastern is your home.”

Krista Caasi, class of 2024, and Sebastien Caicedo, class of 2025, emphasized the importance of Northeastern’s cultural associations.

“Use them to find your comfort zone, and step out of it,” Caasi said.

Angelica Jorio and Charles Zhang, the Student Government Association’s outgoing and incoming presidents, respectively, advised students to explore. 

“Use Northeastern to find what makes you, you,” Jorio said. “There’s no better place to do it than here.”

Zhang then lit the ceremonial torch to officially start the school year, and the video screen showed torches lighted at Northeastern locations throughout the globe.

Throughout the event, an enthusiastic audience of students — decked out in T-shirts commemorating the 125th anniversary and color-coded according to their college — cheered the performers and speakers. And, of course, Paws. 

The students’ lighted bracelets flashed in the darkened auditorium. They clapped along and cheered as more than 100 student performers — from Latin dancers to a cappella singers — joined in a final number that culminated in a spray of confetti before the students paraded back to campus through the Fens, lit by glow sticks. 

First-year student Isabella Boateng said she was excited to attend convocation with her entire class.

“It’s cool to see all of the different majors and colleges come together,” Boateng said.

Cyrus Moulton is a Northeastern Global News reporter. Email him at Follow him on Twitter @MoultonCyrus.