I watched the New Student Welcome in case you didn’t.
Every year, bright and early the Sunday after move-in, one of the most energizing events happens: New Student Welcome with President Ruth Watkins. It's a day where thousands of new students flock to Kingsbury Hall, listen, and learn from faculty and students and the president herself. This year, that event is a little different but just as energizing as ever. This year, we heard from four speakers, Dr. Ruth Watkins, Dr. Dan Reed, student Giulia Da Silva, and Dr. Karen Paisley.
President Ruth Watkins
As is customary, President Watkins was the first leader to speak in the video. She was in the Campus Bookstore with a cup of coffee. Not a lot of people know this, but she frequents the Starbucks in the bookstore usually between 7:45 and 8 a.m. and gets to know those students quite well. If you ever want to have a chat with the president, start there. President Watkins gave us a few key points to reflect on.
- Find a mentor, they are a key to success here at the U.
- Don’t hesitate to ask for help or guidance. There are so many resources to get you where you need to go.
After speaking with a few new and returning students, President Watkins reminded us that we are all part of one U family, connected by shared experiences in an important moment in history.
Finally, President Watkins made one last request, acknowledging the issues of global health to social and racial justice. President Watkins asked us all to commit to a few things:
- Treat one another with kindness and respect
- Keep each other's best interests in mind
- Act for the good of the campus community
Senior VP for Academic Affairs Dan Reed
In keeping with tradition, the next speaker was Dr. Dan Reed, the Senior VP for Academic Affairs and Provost. Atop the U’s observatory, Dr. Reed shared his story. Growing up in a small Arkansas town, he shared his progress through science, doing garage experiments, and building telescopes. Dr. Reed reminded us of the amazing facilities the U has to offer, including Kahlert Village. As his comments ended, he reminded us again that attending the U gives all of us the skills needed to work in the best places on the planet.
The next speaker was my favorite, the student speaker. One of the best parts about New Student Welcome is getting to see someone who is farther through their journey, to sharing insights and giving some hope for when you’ll get there, too.
Third-year biology and international studies major Giulia Da Silva
This year's student speaker was Giulia Da Silva, a third-year from Sao Paulo, Brazil studying biology and international studies. Giulia shared how her first year taught her a lot about people and her purpose and that she grew a lot from when she suffered from Imposter Syndrome. It was the people, professors, and faculty members that reminded her she does belong. Here are the three things she learned during her first year!
She realized every student goes through those struggles and they all want the same things. It became easier for her to connect once she realized she wasn’t the only person feeling that way.
Oh, and her superpower is to connect to people.
Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, College of health dr. Karen paisley
The last speaker was the faculty speaker, Dr. Karen Paisley, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, College of Health, and an associate professor in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism. Dr. Paisley spoke about the learning framework, “It’s the way we conceptualize the exceptional experience here at the U.”
The learning framework
- Knowledge and Skills: “Why would you come to college and not leave a little bit smarter?”
- Community: “We want you to find your people; your people are here.”
- Impact: “We want you to make a change that’s meaningful and positive to you.”
- Transformation (Dr. Paisley’s personal favorite):
Dr. Paisley shared a story of her own transformation experience. In eighth grade, her math teacher told her, “girls can’t do math." Dr. Paisley shared how that made her scared of math, and she hid from it. After realizing that the small school she chose wasn’t the right fit, she transferred to The American University and decided to major in international business. It was this degree that made her take a statistics class. This professor didn’t fit her mold of a math teacher. He made her laugh and have fun, and she finally started to enjoy math. It was his support that led her to declare a finance major, graduate with honors, and he became her first champion and pushed her to be what she could be.
While this New Student Welcome wasn’t quite the same, it still brought some great magic to the new year. I’ll leave you with a quote from Dr. Reed:
“Once you find your people, you’re at home.”
Find your people. Welcome Home. Go Utah!