Eastern Michigan University welcomed the freshman Class of 2020 during the Convocation Ceremony as part of the first four new student orientation on Sep. 2.
Director of Campus Life Lucas Langdon served as the master of ceremonies, applauding both students for attending EMU and parents for their involvement during the opening speech.
Audience members stood for the national anthem, which was performed by the EMU Marching Band.
Ramona Caponegro, asst. professor of English, language and literature, spoke after the national anthem. Caponegro centered her speech on the real-life stories that students will both share and create at EMU.
Caponegro said in her speech, "For a book lover like me, it's still occasionally amazing how many influential stories and transformative experiences happen in real life, and not within the pages of books."
Caponegro believes that EMU will provide students with the opportunity to create new chapters in their personal stories, with their stories intertwining with those of other people in their classes, campus activities and in the larger community.
Caponegro said, "Moving forward in your college experience, I hope you take the best parts of your past and current story into college and beyond."
Student Body President Tanasia Morton spoke next. Morton said that while she did not choose Eastern Michigan University, EMU chose her and that after joining student organizations she was able to find people who helped her find her place at Eastern.
Morton challenged students to "find their people, find their places, and to find their patience," while promising that she would personally assist them in creating their own student organizations if they were unable to find these things.
At the end of her speech Morton said, "Along with myself, student government, residence life, campus life, all of our organizations, professors, administrators, and even our regents, our job is to serve you. So, welcome to EMU Class of 2020, but most of all, welcome home."
In an interview after the Convocation Ceremony Morton said that the community aspect of EMU is what makes EMU home for her. When asked what advice she would give for incoming freshman Morton said, "Get involved, it's what kept me here on campus."
President of the Alumni Association Patrick Barry spoke after Morton's speech, welcoming students to EMU. In his closing statement Barry said, "We welcome you with open arms, and look forward to knowing you. We know how transformational Eastern was in our lives, and we look forward to the growth in your lives."
The EMU Marching Band performed the EMU fight song, which led into EMU president James M. Smith making keynote remarks as the final speech of the Convocation Ceremony. Smith highlighted several of EMU's achievements, including students from 53 different countries and nearly every state in the U.S. attending the university, over 160,000 alumni, the Honors College doubling in size the past few years, energy savings/conservation to reduce EMU's carbon footprint, dining facility expansion and a 130 percent increase in financial aid for students in the past nine years.
Smith addressed the freshman audience, "You are part of an incoming freshman class that will be about 2,700 in summary. We're not sure that you'll be the largest freshman class, but you will either be the second or third largest freshman class that we've experienced at EMU."
Toward the end of the speech Smith gave the students in the audience 11 pieces of advice to carry with them into their freshman year:
1. "Go to class, no matter how early it is in the morning."
2. "This is what we call a head slapper, study."
3. "Make a friend and look out for each other."
4. "If you have questions, ask."
5. "Get to know at least one professor each semester. Actually visit them during office hours."
6. "Treat your fellow students, treat your fellow faculty, and university personnel, with the respect that you want us to give to you."
7. "Say no sometimes. You can't be on every committee, you can't be engaged in every event. Say no, pick wisely."
8. "Take advantage of all that Eastern has to offer."
9. "Join one of our 200 student organizations."
10. "Enjoy the walk, because parking is not convenient. We do not have a parking problem, we have a walking problem."
11. "Learn about community service. Be engaged."
Smith ended his speech by promoting the EMU vs. Mississippi Valley State University football game on Sep. 2 and the Welcome Back picnic being held on Sep. 8. Smith said, "If I don't see you in this space next week, or the following week, or a month from now, or three months from now, I can't tell you how excited I'll be to see you in this space four years from now when you walk across this stage and are proud graduates of EMU."