“The beauty of Lafayette is that now more than ever, you have the opportunity to explore your passions, try new things, and most of all, find unique ways to use these four years as the foundation for the rest of your life,” said Student Government president Stephen Gadomski ‘11 to the 649 members of the Class of 2014.
The new students, who were gathered on the Quad, were officially welcomed to the College community by Gadomski and President Daniel H. Weiss during Friday morning Convocation ceremonies opening the 179th academic year. Classes for both new and returning students began Monday, Aug. 30.
The Convocation student speakers were Matthew Grandon ‘12 (Lemoyne, Pa.), a history major; Alyssa Smith ‘11 (North Falmouth, Mass.), who is pursuing a self-designed major in social justice & quantitative literacy; and Bradley Williams ‘10, who graduated with an A.B. in multimedia design & marketing. They spoke about their experiences at Lafayette and the importance of pursuing passions, community engagement, and taking academic risks.
“I was able to create a major that articulated my passions. I certainly didn’t imagine myself creating a major as a freshman, but I followed my interests with a fierce passion and this is where they led me,” said Smith. “This funny thing happens at Lafayette. When you speak up and tell someone you are interested in something, they get excited about it too. And they guide you to learn even more about it and about yourself.”
Williams, who designed this year’s new student orientation logo, will be teaching in Argentina on a Fulbright Scholarship.
“Looking back, I can tell you exactly what lies ahead of you in your four years here. It’s whatever you want it to be. You’re entering into an institution that will provide you with more opportunities than you can take advantage of. But what really makes it special is this is an institution that will allow you to make your own opportunities,” said Williams.
The College’s four-day orientation program is designed to focus on students’ intellectual and personal development and to help ease the transition to college life. The theme of orientation, and other curricular and co-curricular activities throughout the year, is “1914 to 2014: Waging War, Staging Peace.” Beginning with World War I, students will be introduced to the vibrancy of intellectual life at Lafayette by exploring the extremes of humanity ranging from destruction to innovation throughout the last 100 years. The primary summer reading assignment was the WWI novel Regeneration by Pat Barker.
Also speaking at Convocation were John Colatch, director of religious life and College chaplain; Wendy Hill, provost and dean of the faculty; Gregory MacDonald, dean of admissions and financial aid; Carol Rowlands ’81, director of admissions; and Hannah Stewart-Gambino, dean of the College.
Pamela Gaary Holran ’88, president of the Alumni Association, presented the Class of 2014 flag to first-year students Alyssa Hollander (Holmdel, N.J.), Elizabeth Moroney (Califon, N.J.), and Will Rockafellow (Rosemont, Pa.). She also quizzed the new students on their Lafayette knowledge, including the fact that there are 28,435 current alumni living in the U.S. and 90 other countries, and this year alumni hosted 279 internship and 417 externship opportunities for students.