UPUA President Terry Ford Welcomes Class Of 2020 To Penn State

UPUA President Terry Ford welcomed the Class of 2020 at Convocation this evening, offering anecdotal advice to the incoming freshmen and officially welcoming them to Penn State. Below is the full text of Ford’s speech:

Good evening Class of 2020 and welcome to Penn State! My name is Terry Ford and it is my great honor to serve as your Student Body President for the next year.

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. One that is rich with tradition and one whose future looks brighter than ever before.

I remember sitting in the same seats as you just three years ago. And now, as I welcome your class to this great University, I remember just how nervous and terrified I was for the next four years to come.

A new world, a new life, a new journey without a roadmap stood before me, just as it stands before you now.

Many of you have already achieved incredible success in your hometown communities. That’s why you’re here! Some of you were probably elected high school class president. Some of you were probably star athletes.

But I also look around and see a number of you who have yet to find your niche. I was one of you.

I wasn’t the valedictorian, or class president, and I certainly wasn’t a star athlete.

So how was I to succeed here, where everything is so much larger? How was I to succeed here, when I couldn’t even find my way around campus?

But then I thought to myself: Terry, your time here is so limited. Four years will pass in the blink of an eye, and you do not want to regret a single moment of your time in this special place.

This special place is now yours. This is your moment – a pivotal point in your life.

That’s why I encourage all of you to step outside your comfort zone and get involved right away.

You can learn about many clubs and activities at the Involvement Fair on Monday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the HUB lawn. Next Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. you can participate in Fresh Start Day of Service and discover the countless opportunities for community service here at Penn State.

There are over 1000 student organizations on this campus. Explore as many as you can and I promise you will find your niche. Whether it’s THON, the largest student-run philanthropy in the world, a slam poetry group, or even student government, you can excel here and make friends that will last a lifetime.

But for all the opportunities that will be available to you, there will be no shortage of challenges. There will be times when you will be challenged – mentally, academically, socially.

But this is what college is all about. Challenging yourself. And when things get tough, just know that your faculty, your advisors, and your fellow students stand with you!

Your class is the largest in Penn State history. And I know I speak for the over half a million Penn State students and alumni across the world when I say that we are thrilled to have each and every one of your join our family.

This family – now your family – has impacted the world in so many ways, through education, research, and service.

This legacy – now yours to uphold – is what makes our University so great.

And speaking of legacy, I’d like to close with a quote from the 12 th president of Penn State Eric A. Walker. Over 50 years ago, he said this:

“As with those who have gone forth before, you are now a part of Penn State, and she is a part of you. Wherever you go, she will go with you. Wherever you work, there the University will be at work. Whatever you do, Penn State will be reflected in your accomplishments, your successes, and your triumphs.”

You are now all representatives of this grand university. Through your achievements in and out of the classroom – even if you don’t realize it – you are promoting the welfare of Penn State.

Seize this opportunity and make every moment count. Your accomplishments are now Penn State’s accomplishments. Your victories are now Penn State’s victories. We are all rooting for you, and I have no doubt that all of you are ready for this.

Thank you. This concludes convocation; join us now in the HUB for the President’s Welcome Reception and Late Night!

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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