Student Body President Katie Jordan Welcomes Freshmen To Penn State

University Park Undergraduate Association (UPUA) President Katie Jordan addressed the Class of 2021 for the first time Saturday night at the annual President’s New Student Convocation, encouraging new students to find their passions at Penn State and experience all Happy Valley has to offer. Read the full text of Jordan’s speech below:

Welcome class of 2021!

Welcome to Penn State, to the next four years of your life that will challenge you and inspire you.

Welcome to your home, which will house some of your greatest accomplishments, and even be home to some of your greatest fears.

Welcome to a world-class research institution with some of the brightest people on this planet working to make our world a better place.

Welcome to a new family of 670,000 living alumni, which has been named the No.1 most powerful college network by College Magazine.

It may be hard to understand right now how incredible this place is and will be to you for the next four years. I know that it was for me. You are about to enter the most exhilarating and challenging years of your life, and I dare you to not waste a single minute. But before you get started, I hope I can offer some helpful advice.

I remember sitting in your seats and being nervous that this experience wouldn’t be as I expected, and I will tell you right now, it wasn’t, but that’s not always a bad thing.

You may have a path forged for yourself and your future goals. If you do, that’s amazing. I encourage you to follow your passions. But also, don’t be afraid to sway from your planned path. Sometimes in life, and especially in the next four years, you will find what you don’t like, before finding what you love. Part of that is being willing to explore, and sometimes get things wrong before getting them right.

When I stumbled upon the student government table during the involvement fair my freshman year I never imagined that I would become student body president three years later. But I followed my passion.

I knew that I always loved being an advocate and creating positive change, so student government became the path for me. Whatever your path may be, whether it’s joining a preforming arts group, participating in THON, playing a club sport, joining a service or philanthropy organization, or any of the other clubs that exist here, now is your time to explore it.

You can learn about many clubs and activities at the Involvement Fair on Monday from 11 AM to 4 PM on the HUB lawn.

Next Saturday from 8:30 AM to 4 PM you can participate in Fresh Start Day of Service and discover the countless opportunities for community service here at Penn State.

While you explore, make sure you listen to those around you. We can learn more from our differences than our similarities, and I urge you to explore the vast culture of Penn State and expand your comfort zones.

In this class we have students from around the world, and nearly every state. Imagine how much we can grow as a community when we work together to become more inclusive. Our university is committed to creating citizens who are inclusive, and we can do so starting today! Strike up a conversation with someone different than you, you will find connections where you least expect it.

Let me give you a few numbers to put the next four years into perspective. You will have 896 days, which equals 21,504 hours as a Penn State student; you will enroll in about 40 different courses; be a potential member of 1,200 student organizations, and then join an alumni network of over 670,000 living alumni. But more importantly, you will experience Penn State through your own unique lens. Your experience will be yours alone.

My best advice to you is: fully immerse yourself in the Penn State experience. Let go of the past and take in all that Happy Valley has to offer.

This is a place where you can thrive. Be bold; do not be afraid to question others, or other opinions. Find your passion, work toward it, and it will shape you more than you will ever know. On this journey, it will be challenging. There will be times where you will feel lost and not at home. But lucky for you, our Penn State community is willing to help you. For everyone has struggles. It is okay to ask for help from your peers, faculty, or staff. Bumps in the road will teach you about yourself and sometimes help guide you in the right direction.

Having the honor of serving as your student body President has taught me more than I ever would have thought. I am excited to see what your futures hold. Only once in your life will you be surrounded with this many peers. And I’d be remise if I didn’t tell you that when I say WE ARE, you say…. (PENN STATE.)

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About the Author

Elissa Hill

Elissa is a junior public relations major and the managing editor of Onward State. She is from Punxsutawney, PA [insert corny Bill Murray joke here] and considers herself an expert on all things ice cream. Send questions and comments via e-mail ([email protected]) and follow her on Twitter (@ElissaKHill) for more corny jokes.

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