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President Barron, UPUA President Emily McDonald Welcome Penn State Class Of 2019

In Penn State tradition, the Class of 2019 spent the Saturday night before the start of classes in the Bryce Jordan Center for Convocation. Adorned in colored shirts based on the college of their intended major, students came together as a full class for the first and basically only time.

After Penn State choral group Essence of Joy performed a few songs, deans and leaders from each college proceeded in and Essence of Joy led the arena in singing the Alma Mater. Showing their worth as true Penn Staters, the crowd locked arms and swayed as they sang, almost immediately.

As per usual, the night included a number of speeches and videos. After the Class of 2019 was officially inducted into Penn State, President Eric Barron’s took to the mic, offering opening remarks that included a number of incredible statistics about the class, including:

  • Students come from 67 countries and 45 states
  • 135 students were the top one percent of their class
  • 40 percent of students were in the top 10 percent of their class
  • 76 percent of students come from public schools, 19 percent from private, and 5 percent from charter or home schooling
  • The class includes 250 new Penn State athletes, more than 30 of whom are Schreyer Honor Scholars

As each college was introduced and its students asked to stand, additional mind-blowing facts were shared:

  • One out of every three courses a student takes during their time at Penn State is a Liberal Arts course
  • One out of every 56 engineering degrees handed out last year in America was a Penn State Engineering degree (at which point the engineering students started their own “we are” chant)
  • The college of nursing is often the college with the highest GPA
  • The 1900 World Campus students come from all 50 states and more than 22 countries

President Barron also included his classic Blue and White Sports Car metaphor, urging the room full of new students to take advantage of their time here at Penn State.

Other speakers were Robert Pangborn, Vice President and Dean of Undergraduate Education, Khanjan Mehta, Director of Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship, and, of course, UPUA President Emily McDonald. We’ve included the transcript of McDonald’s speech below (including the parts where she got the Class of 2019 to join her for the largest selfie ever and quoted Drake):

Good evening, Class of 2019! I am honored to
welcome you along with all of the people sitting
behind me, but first…..let me take a selfie.

Congrats Class of 2019! You just broke your first
collective world (Penn State) record for the largest
selfie ever taken!

You will find that Penn State has many, many record
breakers, from research labs, to athletic fields, and
now selfie takers! Penn Staters do not settle for
average in any setting. You too are now part of this
ever-growing institution that never fails to set the
bar for the rest of the world.

Now that you are here, sitting in the seats of the
ginormous Bryce Jordan Center where so many
people have sat before you, the possibilities are
absolutely endless.

Let me tell you a story about someone who sat in
those very seats three years ago to the day. She had
moved into a supplemental room with five other
strangers in McElwain hall just hours before. She
was nervous, actually she was terrified. She had a
close-knit group of high school friends and was not
mentally prepared to take on a University of 35,000
other students.

She had bad attitude and she even went home for
the weekend during what should have been her
very first home football game in Beaver Stadium.

Luckily, it did not take her long to recognize that
this path was not the one she wanted to be on.
Quickly she started joining student organizations
such as a THON committee, a sorority, and last but
not least student government.

That girl who came in wanting to hide in her shell
and pretend that the rest of the campus wasn’t
buzzing with opportunities was me. And today I
proudly stand before you as your student body
president for the next year.

This university is your home now for the next four
years. Starting tonight when you leave the BJC I
encourage you to grab ahold and embrace every
opportunity that is presented to you and seek out
the ones that aren’t.

Go down the hall tonight and knock on a random
door because the person behind it may become your
best friend and your lifeline for the next four years.

Add your name to countless club listservs to keep
yourself in the know about what’s going on around
campus because you never know when something
may come up that interests you.

Apply to do research, because some day the work
you did just may change the world.

Join a club and go back for at least three meetings
before you decide if you want to be a member
because on that third night, they just may be giving
out free pizza.

You can find out about many clubs and activities
through a variety of events this week, starting off with
the involvement fairs, which are being held
Monday through Thursday in Alumni Hall in the HUB.
On Saturday you can participate in Fresh Start Day
of Service, which runs throughout the morning.

Whatever your thing is, or whatever you want
your thing to be, go out and get it. It’s easy to sit in
your room and go to class, but I can promise you
that you don’t want to look back at your time at the
best university in the world and wish that you did

As my favorite artist Drake once said, “ Sometimes
it’s the journey that teaches you a lot about your
destination.” These four years are a journey that
leads to the destination of the rest of your life. They
will be challenging at times, but rewarding in the

Embrace this next step of your life for everything
that it is worth, and be sure to stop and smell the
flowers along the way.

If you pledge to never stop learning, growing, and
stepping out of your comfort zone, I promise you
that these next four years at Penn State will be the
best of your life.

Thank you for your attention. This concludes
Convocation, please join us in the HUB for the
President’s Reception and LateNight.”

In the words of Pangborn, “Thank you for choosing Penn State, and welcome to our family!”

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About the Author

Lexi Shimkonis

Lexi is an editor-turned-staff writer who can often be found at either Irving's or the Phyrst (with the chances she'll have her backpack being the same). Lexi is a senior hailing from Spring City, PA (kind of) and studying Civil Engineering. Please email questions and/or pleas for an Instagram caption to [email protected], or for a more intimate bond, follow her on Twitter @lexshimko.


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