Student Body President Cody Heaton Welcomes Class of 2022 At Convocation

Saturday evening at the annual President’s New Student Convocation, University Park Undergraduate Association (UPUA) President Cody Heaton welcomed the incoming Class of 2022 to Penn State.  In his speech, Heaton called upon the Class of 2022 to challenge themselves every day, as well as hold each other accountable as a class.  The text from Heaton’s speech can be read below:

Good Evening Class of 2022. It is with great honor and privilege that I welcome you to the grand University that is Penn State.

You all are about to embark on a 4-year journey that will change your life. Whether it be through the people you meet, the degree you earn, or the organizations you become affiliated with, Penn State has a lasting effect. Our world class institution has some of the best academics, sports, and research in the world that you can take advantage of and I encourage you to do so.

Since WE ARE one big family, I thought I would give you some advice from the perspective of an older sibling to a younger sibling… Plus, my younger brother is currently a first-year student, so it’s even more fitting. Shout out to Michael!

The first year of college is an exciting, yet trying time. It is filled with challenges both small and large, that will test you. There will be classes that push you to new limits and that may seem impossible, but you will make it through. There will be emotional tests– days when everything seems to be going wrong, and then the next hour you’ll be on top of the world.
There will be difficult times for many of you, but you will grow and learn from these experiences. Know that there are resources here comprised of both friends and professionals to help you along the way. Never hesitate to reach out to a professor, staff member, counselor or religious leader to help make Penn State your home. I have personally had hardships over the past four years, and using the on-campus resources was a tremendous help. Take advantage of all the relationships you form, and spend time building upon these relationships.

As an older sibling likes to do, I am going to challenge you all. I challenge you to build a better you, to improve upon yourself more in these next 4 years than all your past years combined. While there are virtually unlimited ways to accomplish this at Penn State, I have a few suggestions.

First, go to the involvement fair this Wednesday, August 22nd from 11 A.M. to 4 P.M. on the HUB-Robeson Center Lawn and​ ​sign up for 3 clubs. Go to a few meetings and join at least one club. Don’t be afraid to try new things, and don’t be afraid to say “This isn’t right for me.” During my freshman year, I joined a fraternity, rowed for the Club Crew Team, and joined the Penn State Pre-medical Society, all of which I found where not right for me. I eventually found student government to be my niche and participated in it for my remaining years.

So find a way to be involved. It will allow you to meet and become friends with a diverse group of fellow new students. Becoming involved also allows you to immerse yourself in the different cultures Penn State offers, while helping to build a strong social network and balance your academic schedule.

The people you meet may even become your best friends, and they will all be a part of an unforgettable first year.

Next, I challenge you to hold each other accountable and to a higher standard. Penn State offers a “Stand for State” bystander intervention program, which I encourage you all to participate in. This program helps students recognize signs of sexual assault, mental health issues, and risky drinking and drug use. Stand for State offers programs throughout the semester to train students on best practices to help others in these situations. As a family we must ensure that we keep each other safe and are making ethical decisions.

My last piece of advice is to do something every day that makes you uncomfortable, something that develops your inner self, but you’ve always struggled to do. It could be talking to a professor after class, going to the Fitness Centers routinely, or sparking up a conversation with a random person sitting next to you. You will be amazed at what you learn and how much you grow by doing this daily.

Many people say, “These four years of college are the best years of your life.” I wholeheartedly disagree with that statement. Rather, I say, “Make these four years the best years you’ve had so far.” College is a 4-year journey where you can find yourself and develop your passions.

Thank you all and this concludes convocation. Please join us now in the HUB-Robeson Center for the Welcome Reception and Late Night.

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About the Author

Ali Richards

Ali is a geoscience major and the copy editor for Onward State. She's from Washington, DC (Go Caps!), enjoys gneiss rock puns, and dislikes wavy chips. You can reach her at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter @haveagneisslife.

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