Penn State Welcomes Class Of 2026 At Convocation Ceremony

Penn State welcomed the Class of 2026 at its annual New Student Convocation ceremony Saturday night.

Student a cappella group Blue in the Face kicked off the night’s proceedings with a performance as Happy Valley’s newest Nittany Lions took their seats in the Bryce Jordan Center.

After a performance of the alma mater by Blue in the Face, President Neeli Bendapudi was the night’s first speaker. Bendapudi began by mentioning it was her first-ever convocation ceremony.

“I’m beginning my Penn State journey along with each of you,” Bendapudi said. “In the months and years ahead, I truly look forward to getting to know you, to meet you, and to celebrate your graduation in four years.”

Bendapudi shared statistics and fun facts about the incoming class, including shouting out several new students by name. Penn State’s president urged the Class of 2026 to get involved and join the university community.

President Bendapudi concluded by reminding Penn State’s new students to use their college careers for growth.

“You are a part of the Penn State family,” Bendapudi said. “As with any family, it comes with accountability and responsibility for your words… Allow yourself time to learn from your mistakes, to succeed, and to grow.”

Penn State Provost Justin Schwartz then took the stage to motivate the freshmen to plan for their future.

“It’s never too early to think about what you’re going to achieve as a Penn State student,” Schwartz said. “Try something, at least once, that you never imagined you would do.”

After Schwartz finished, Vice Provost Kathleen Bieschke introduced each academic college’s dean and asked the corresponding new students to stand.

UPUA President Sydney Gibbard was the final speaker of the ceremony. Gibbard shared anecdotes from her freshman year and echoed previous speakers’ emphasis on personal growth.

“Instead of asking ‘what do I want to be?’ ask ‘who do I want to be,?” Gibbard said. “Instead of asking ‘how can I be successful?’ ask ‘how can I continue to grow?'”

Gibbard ended the night by leading the freshmen in a rousing “We Are” chant.

Class of 2026, welcome to Happy Valley! Here’s to a great four years.

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About the Author

Sam Fremin

Sam is a senior from Ashburn, Virginia, majoring in journalism and political science & minoring in German and creative writing. He is a Dallas Cowboys fan who relishes the misery of Eagles fans. All hate messages can be sent to [email protected] or @SamFremin on Twitter.

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