On Tuesday, Sept. 20, UCR held its New Student Convocation on Pierce Lawn. This year’s convocation was the largest one ever held, with an estimated attendance of 4,600 students comprised of both incoming freshmen and transfer students.
Welcoming the students to the ceremony was the UCR Highlander Band conducted by Giovanni Mayoral. The UCR Pipe Band, which was a collection of the University Marshal, the Chancellor’s Dais Party and various faculty members, then proceeded to lead the academic procession. Leslye Martinez, a theater major, sang the national anthem, as well as the alma mater, “Hail Fair UCR” later in the ceremony.
Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox began his address by asking students to reflect on where they sat that day. He explained, for example, how UCR is the highest in elevation as well as the most eastward campus among the UC campuses. He reminded the students about a similar ceremony in the nearby future, saying, “You’re sitting in the chair that you will sit in four years from now at commencement.” He added that every year, UCR tries to recruit even better students and faculty than the year before, and emphasized how “this is the biggest class in the history of the University of California, Riverside.” Wilcox explained how this new chapter in their lives would entail pushing into the frontier of the unknown, where even textbooks are sometimes incorrect and are a reflection of the rapidly changing world. “We believe, going in, that there is stuff to challenge, not just to learn and remember,” said Wilcox.
President of the UCR Alumni Association Kenneth Noller, spoke to students about the perseverance they will need in order to succeed at UCR. He encouraged students to lead balanced lives by urging them to become involved on campus while studying for classes. “Trust me when I say that this will be an amazing time in your life, a time in which you will be tested on many different levels, a time where you will surely face numerous academic challenges. I encourage you to embrace those challenges because overcoming them will help you discover your path in life,” said Noller.
Dylan Rodriguez, professor of ethnic studies and the newly appointed chair of the UCR Academic Senate, highlighted the inherent obstacles that students have overcome in order to attend UCR. “Many of you, many of us, are from those very same places and come from those very same people who … have long felt alienated from universities like this one because we know that many of its founders never intended that we enter these grounds as students and faculty members,” explained Rodriguez. He cited how many students at UCR are the first in their families to go to college, and urged students to challenge what they learn.
Lastly, President of ASUCR Shafi Karim spoke to the crowd about being a Muslim immigrant from Bangladesh in a time when the country is so divided, and how “each of us have our own unique story that has brought us here today.” Karim stressed how lucky students were to have an education, explaining how many places around the world lack basic human needs such as food and shelter. “We have the privilege of going to one of the best and most diverse university in the world … and with the privilege of going to UCR, we have a responsibility to not take these years for granted and use this opportunity to make a positive difference in ourselves and society,” he said.
Miles Cutuli, an incoming biology major, enjoyed the convocation for its congeniality. He admired the perpetual notion of learning, saying, “Even professors are not only teaching us, but also learning. And that really inspired me because they don’t know everything, and I don’t know everything, so we’re both learning together.”