As is tradition, Penn State’s student body president delivered remarks at the Bryce Jordan Center to more than 8,000 freshmen at new student convocation.
Below, please find the full-text of UPUA President Anand Ganjam’s remarks from this evening. Welcome (or, welcome back) to Penn State everyone!
Penn State Class of 2018, it is a great privilege for me to welcome the more than 8,500 of you to our great University. I know many of you might be nervous as you begin your time here, moving into a new place and being surrounded by such a large and diverse group of new faces.
But you are not the only ones new to Penn State. Sitting behind me is Dr. Barron, who is also new, beginning his first year as the President of Penn State. Then there’s our Head Football Coach James Franklin, also new to Penn State, and set to begin his first year leading our beloved Nittany Lions onto the field in Beaver Stadium. And let me tell you, I have spoken with them, and they are both just as nervous about the Freshman 15 as you are.
So while we are attending a University that is rich with a long history of excellence and tradition, this year marks many new beginnings as well, and you are all a part of that.
As I look around, I know that many of you have already made a significant impact within your hometown communities. Some of you served as your high school class presidents. Some of you were valedictorians. Some of you are world class athletes who will soon be representing Penn State in competitions across the globe.
But I also look around and see a number of you who have yet to find your niche. I was one of you. Three years ago I sat exactly where all of you are sitting. I had recently graduated from Central York High School in York, Pennsylvania, with a graduating class of about 300 students.
Now we wouldn’t be at Penn State if we didn’t work hard and get good grades, so yes, I was a good student, and I was involved in a number of activities. But I did not feel that I made much of an impact in my community. I wasn’t the valedictorian, or class president, and I certainly wasn’t an all-star athlete. I remember looking around on this same day and thinking to myself, if I didn’t stand out in a high school of only a few hundred students, how in the world would I do so among the thousands of students sitting around me, who have already accomplished so many great things?
Then I remember the Student Body President at that time giving a similar speech, speaking about the amazing opportunities he had during his time at Penn State. It was then that I realized that if there was ever a time and place for me to break out of my shell and test my limits, it was right here, right now, at Penn State. So I got involved right away, and long story short, at the end of my junior year I made the craziest decision of my life — that is, to run in the Student Government elections. Today, I am proud and humbled to stand before you as your Penn State Student Body President.
And it wasn’t just me who had that experience. Some of the other Penn State students sitting in those seats 3 years ago got involved with THON, and today are leading the largest student run philanthropy in the world, raising over 13 million dollars for pediatric cancer research just this past year. Other students got involved with the Penn State Lunar Lion mission, and are part of the first ever University-led effort to send a spacecraft to the moon. These are just 2 of countless other examples of students who once sat in those seats making a huge impact in the world around us.
All of you have that same opportunity. Each and every single one of you has a fresh start, a clean slate. Regardless of where you’re from or what you’ve done, you all can make a true impact on yourselves and the world around you.
Now it’s not always easy to find your niche, or to find that place where you can make your impact, so to help you out, many Penn Staters have come together to host a variety of events this week, starting off with the involvement fairs, which are from Monday through Thursday in Alumni Hall in the HUB, and feature many of the over 1,000 student organizations at University Park.
On Saturday you can participate in Fresh Start Day of Service, which runs throughout the morning. Later that day, you can also join your classmates, and several Penn State student leaders and administrators, at Fresh Fest, an annual welcome back celebration held on the Old Main lawn.
Class of 2018, you are now a part of one of the best academic institutions on earth, set to begin an unparalleled educational experience. You are now a part of a family of over half a million individuals living in all 50 states and over 100 different countries. You are now Penn State, and the future of this great University that so many of us call home, is in your hands.
Before I leave, I want to challenge you, I want to challenge each and every single one of you to make yourselves stand out. When you leave this building today, I urge you to get out there, find your niche, and make a difference in this community, which is now your home. And I am extremely excited to see all that you accomplish.
Thank you and welcome to Penn State.