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Freshmen Officially Join Penn State Family At Convocation

Convocation is a higher education tradition like no other. The entirety of the freshman class convenes for the first and only time to be officially welcomed into the university family and learn a little more about the great institution they now call home.

This year’s Convocation was just as inspiring and colorful as years past. President Barron again provided the Class of 2020 with T-shirts color-coordinated to match their majors, giving each student the opportunity to see who will join them on their journey for the next four (or more!) years.

The Pennharmonics, one of Penn State’s student a Capella groups, started the festivities with a short performance, singing three songs to warm up the crowd. The group sang Paramore’s “Ain’t It Fun” before getting into two originals titled “Freedom” and “Forgiven.”

Next was the procession of the colleges, after which President Eric Barron welcomed the Class of 2020 and led the freshmen in their first official singing of the Alma Mater as Penn State students.

“This Convocation marks the ceremonial beginning of your Penn State career,” Barron said after everyone sat down.

Barron went on to discuss the many accomplishments the Class of 2020 already boasts, stating that 27 percent of the incoming group had a 4.0 GPA or better in high school and students are joining the university from 62 countries and 45 states.

barron convocation 2016
President Barron addresses the Class of 2020 for the first time.

The university president also shared with the freshmen his favorite metaphor, comparing a Penn State journey to a blue and white sports car. He urged students to make the most of their opportunities and to cherish every experience over the next four years.

Provost Nick Jones was next to address the Bryce Jordan Center, also recommending students to really be a part of the Penn State experience.

“We want you to be safe, be happy, make friends, to love learning, and, of course, to have fun,” Jones said. “All of that is part of college. Along the way you will face new responsibilities — and I’m not just talking about keeping track of your room key.”

“Now, you’re part of this family too,” he added.

Always a welcome, lively treat at Convocation is Dr. Susan Russell, an Associate Professor in the School of Theater who spoke next. An advocate for peace and acceptance, Russell was energetic and animated about meeting the Class of 2020 for the first time.

“You are the culture that will change us for the next four years,” Russell said. “So be it, ’till you change it.”

Russell’s address drew the loudest response, making way for Vice Provost of Academic Affairs Dr. Blannie Bowen to introduce each college and give them the opportunity to stand up and be recognized.

As per tradition, UPUA President Terry Ford was the final presenter, consoling and advising the freshmen in his speech, which you can find the full context of here.

“Tonight, I’d like to congratulate all of you. You are now a part of one of the finest institutions of higher education in the world,” Ford said. “One that is rich with tradition and one whose future looks brighter than ever before.”

Terry Ford Convocation
Terry Ford introduced himself as student body president and spoke to the freshman class for the first time.

Your time at Penn State will pass in the blink of an eye, so cherish every moment and live every experience freshmen. Now that you’re officially Penn State students, welcome to the Penn State family, Class of 2020!

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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