Class of 2018 Welcomed at New Student Convocation
Members of the Class of 2018 and new undergraduate transfers were formally welcomed to Sacred Heart University at the annual New Student Convocation on Wednesday, August 27. For the second consecutive year, SHU welcomed the largest cohort of first-year students in school history. This year’s class numbers more than 1,400.
This year’s convocation was dedicated to Kaitlyn Doorhy ’16 who lost her life after she was struck by a motor vehicle while walking near her home in Bridgeport Friday afternoon. Provost Laura Niesen de Abruna noted that Kaitlyn is in the thoughts of the entire SHU community, and a moment of silence was held in her memory.
The crowd of students, faculty and staff heard from Governor Dannel Malloy who was the day’s honored guest and special speaker. He shared with the students his own struggles as a student with physical and learning disabilities, but said with the help of outstanding teachers and a devoted mother, he fought to overcome them. He eventually became the first non-blind person to pass the bar exams for New York & Massachusetts and for Connecticut orally. He challenged the class of 2018 to embrace these four years. “I embraced my college years, and it made me better and stronger. You will never have this opportunity again.” He concluded by saying, “Here is the most important advice that you will receive for your college program: Get up and go to breakfast!”
Following the Governor’s address, the deans of each of Sacred Heart’s five colleges welcomed the students on behalf of their college’s faculty and staff.
The Convocation began with the traditional procession of University faculty and staff members in their distinctive academic regalia. The National Anthem was followed by an invocation jointly offered by Sean Cronan and Brianna Santangelo, both of whom were recent participants in the University’s urban immersion experience, Community Connections.
The crowd also heard from senior Nicole Gittleman, president of the Student Government Association, who offered the student welcome. She compared the changes, growth and growing pains that SHU has experienced during the past 18 years with the changes and growth of the incoming class members during their first 18 years of life, and she advised them to take advantage of all that Sacred Heart has to offer. “I hope that in the next four years, in the next 1,460 days, in the next 35,040 hours, in the next 2.1 million minutes, you grow every second with this University and because of this University,” she said.
Professor Jim Castonguay, director of the master’s in communication program, brought greetings on behalf of the entire faculty. He advised the students to take themselves seriously as intellectuals and student-scholars. “Along the way, we hope that you do not view us, your professors, as obstacles that stand between you and a grade or a degree, or graduate school or a job, because we are precisely the ones who are going to help you achieve those goals through a productive partnership,” he said.
During his welcome to the new students, President John J. Petillo also advised the students to take advantage of every opportunity. “Get to know your professors, and give them the opportunity to know you,” he said. He also acknowledged the tragic loss of Doorhy noting that the tragedy happened as she and members of her sorority were headed to campus to welcome the freshman class as they moved in. He pointed out that she was an organ donor and will live on through her gifts, and he shared that her parents had asked in her obituary that those attending her funeral dress in festive attire to celebrate her new life.
The culmination of this special assembly is always the induction by Assistant Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences Michael Bozzone, who leads the first-year students in a formal oath. In it, they pledge to make the most of their opportunities at Sacred Heart. Each student also received a special Sacred Heart University pin.
The celebration of the opening of the academic year will continue with the President’s Gala for students on Friday evening, September 5, and the Mass of the Holy Spirit at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, September 10, which will also be dedicated to the memory of Doorhy.
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