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Penn State Welcomes Class Of 2024 With Virtual Convocation Ceremony

Penn State officially welcomed the Class of 2024 Saturday night with its annual New Student Convocation ceremony.

Although this year’s event was done virtually, President Eric Barron and UPUA President Zach McKay still offered inspiring speeches, while talented students put on impressive performances.

The night got started with the World Campus President Sean Walsh welcoming the freshmen to the ceremony before introducing university President Eric Barron.

“Convocation has special meaning,” Barron said. “It marks the ceremonial beginning of your academic pursuits. More importantly, it’s intended to better acquaint you with some of Penn state’s people, expectations, and opportunities while giving you a few insights into college life.”

Barron implored students to take action to prevent the spread of the coroanvirus, such as wearing a mask on campus, physically distancing, and washing hands repeatedly.

“We are Penn State, and we are in this together,” Barron added.

The president then introduced the Penn State choir to sing the Alma Mater, which sounded impressive as ever, even through a virtual broadcast.

Barron returned to the proverbial stage to highlight some statistics about the Class of 2024.

“You’re a big group, almost 10,000 strong,” Barron said. “You were selected from students who applied from nearly 11,000 high schools from around the world. You are from 45 states and the District of Columbia.”

The president outlined many impressive academic feats from the Class of 2024’s various high schools, noting that nearly 38% had a high school GPA of at least a 4.0.

Barron discussed some of the incoming class’s impressive feats- from a world chess competitor to someone who created a company in India- before introducing first year musical student Owen Smith, who performed Cat Stevens’ “Miles from Nowhere.”

Next, musical theatre student Noah Rubak unveiled a neat visual performance called “Equation Beta.” The video showed 16 people synchronizing hand motions via Zoom.

Black Caucus President Nyla Holland spoke next and discussed pursuing extracurricular opportunities at Penn State.

“I learned that joining clubs shouldn’t be traded as optional, nor should they be used to beef up the resume,” Holland said. “Being involved in something you are truly passionate about can be incredibly rewarding.”

Executive Vice President and Provost Nick Jones was next to speak. He addressed the elephant in the room — the coronavirus pandemic.

“We will get through this uncertain time,” Jones said. “Mask up or pack up.”

An uplifting video followed, which showed students recounting their favorite classes, extracurricular activities, and more. The students were also asked to give advice to new students. There were many strong answers, bit “get more sleep” may have taken the cake.

Jones then announced Penn State alum Guy Bluford, the first African American to travel to space. Bluford was part of the Class of 1964 and will soon have a building named in his honor at the university.

Bluford told the new students to follow their passion and “stay curious about the world around [them].”

Recent graduate Amina Faye performed “Stand by Me” before Vice Provost Kathy Bieschke began the college recognitions. Unfortunately, the Bryce Jordan Center wasn’t filled with a rainbow array of students in their respective garb. However, Bieschke outlined the highlights of each college.

Ariana Notartomaso rounded out the musical performances with a rendition of “Someone Who Will Be Loved” before giving the floor to UPUA President Zach McKay.

McKay rounded out the proceedings with an assurance that Penn State would help its students out during this uncertain time. He stressed that we must be kind instead of nice.

“To be nice is to be pleasing and to be agreeable,” McKay said. “Being kind means you stand up for others, even and especially when it might be difficult or daunting. Being kind means engaging in antiracism and actively fighting against systems of oppression.”

Following McKay’s speech, Penn State offered a special presentation of the Old Main Bell Chimes. The chimes played the Alma Mater and rang 20 times to officially “ring in” the 2020-21 school year.

Welcome to Penn State, Class of 2024! You’re about to embark on the best four (or five!) years of your life.

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About the Author

Otis Lyons

Otis is a sophomore majoring in print journalism and is one of Onward State's associate editors. He lives just north of San Francisco, and is a diehard San Jose Earthquakes fan. Feel free to send over your soccer hot takes to his twitter @otisnlyons1 and instagram @otislyons

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