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Faculty and Upperclassmen Inspire at New Student Convocation

‘Explore,’ ‘discover’ and ‘embrace change’ were themes

Sacred Heart University’s class of 2020 received a warm welcome and words of wisdom at the new student convocation ceremony recently.

On a muggy, end-of-August day, hundreds of freshmen made their way up the hill by Curtis Hall to the upbeat sounds of the marching band. They slowly filed into the William H. Pitt Center, where they were greeted by professors, deans, upperclassmen and administrators.

“Standing here as a freshman, I have no idea what to expect,” said Erin Rederscheid of Floral Park, N.Y., before the convocation began. “We’re all faced with many opportunities we’ve never experienced before.”

Rederscheid, who participated in the University’s pre-fall service learning program, Community Connections, added, “I was privileged to experience one of those opportunities already. This past week taught me the importance of love and compassion…which embodies the SHU mission.”

Another Community Connections participant, Kyle Carmona of Stratford, encouraged his peers to embrace change and stay open-minded about meeting new people. “Change is an important part of life,” he said

Rupendra Paliwal, provost and vice president for academic affairs, served as master of ceremonies and introduced the deans to the students. He reminded students to make sure they know who their deans are, but added, “Make sure you’re not seeing them too often.” On the other hand, he encouraged freshman to meet with their professors and advisers early and frequently for guidance and support.

Addison Chau, president of Student Government, told the new students they will have to sit through many speeches throughout their college career. “So for you guys to listen to me, I’m going to have to do something different.”

Music began playing, and Chau started singing his own rendition of Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling,” rife with SHU references. Students clapped and cheered along as Chau sang and attempted to hit all the high notes. When he was done, he informed the students that they were Pioneers and, as SHU founder Bishop Walter W. Curtis did 53 years ago, he encouraged them to discover and explore and create opportunities for themselves.

Anna Greer, associate professor of exercise science, was next up to the podium with greetings from the faculty. She advised students not to take opportunities for granted. “Think of your college experience as a continuum,” she said at the end of her inspirational speech. “It’s dynamic and ever-changing. As you navigate the next four years, keep an open mind.”

Before Michael Bozzone, assistant dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, led students through SHU’s induction oath, University President John J. Petillo spoke to the class, saying, “Welcome class of 2020; welcome to experiences that should change your life.” Later in his remarks, he said, “Allow yourself to be transformed beyond your comfort zone. Get involved in and out of the classroom, participate in dialogues, don’t be afraid…listen to opinions contrary to your own.”

After students said the oath in unison, SHU’s band and chorus performed the University’s alma mater. Students enjoyed refreshments and mingled with peers and faculty after the ceremony.