Generations of SUNY New Paltz students, alumni, faculty and staff joined together for the fall Convocation tradition, welcoming the more than 2,000 first-year and transfer students who are joining the campus community for the 2019-20 academic year.
“Today, our college community gathers to salute our newest cohort of students and take up its work to prepare you to excel in rapidly changing times that demand creativity and worldliness,” said President Donald P. Christian. “Convocation marks the end of summer, which always feels out of balance with so many students and faculty away. Today, things feel right again, with a sense of readiness to take on the challenges of a new year.”
As this semester’s historic incoming class – one of the largest and most diverse in SUNY New Paltz history – entered the Athletic & Wellness Center for the ceremony, student leaders, faculty and alumni lined up to cheer them on.
“The start of this journey signifies a special time in your lives, and I hope your experience here will be a stepping stone to whatever you embark on after college,” said Dylan Rose ’16 (Mathematics), who provided the alumni welcome. “Remember, you are ultimately writing your own story, with today being the beginning of your New Paltz chapter.”
Majessa Pedrozo ’19 (Communication Disorders) gave the student address, encouraging those in the audience to take advantage of opportunities in and out of the classroom, and to have faith in the skills and intelligence they demonstrated in earning admission to a top public college.
“Know that it’s okay to be unsure, confused, and even scared of what lies ahead,” Pedrozo said. “After all, college is about self-discovery and learning to make big decisions. Take advantage of your time here – challenge yourself, seize the opportunities that may seem intimidating, and take charge of your education. Trust me; you will learn more from experiences that push your capabilities.”
Serving as Faculty Grand Marshal for this year’s Convocation ceremony was Nancy Kassop, professor of political science, widely recognized expert in U.S. presidential studies, constitutional law and judicial politics, and a 2019 recipient of the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities.
“You have the tools in your own hands over these next few years to shape your future. How you use those tools is up to you,” Kassop said. “If each of us can stretch ourselves a little farther than we once imagined, if we can summon the courage and internal resources to accomplish that one more goal that we thought we could never achieve, we will increase our self-confidence to do even greater things in the future. Now is your chance to start that process. Remember that we the faculty are here to help you on that journey.”
Following the formal welcome, Convocation participants young and old joined on the Parker Quad for a barbeque picnic, the first of many opportunities to get to know one another as members of the SUNY New Paltz living and learning community.