As dusk descended over the Student Union Mall, hundreds of University of Connecticut freshmen crowded around the center stage, raising battery-powered candles that lit the air with a soft glow.
UConn Student Government President Irma Valverde, standing in front of an unlit torch, addressed the crowd.
“Class of 2021,” Valverde said. “Your light is the ability to lead your legacy here at UConn. Your light can truly make a difference, not just here… but in the world. With recent events, it’s important to remember that our diversity makes us stronger.”
Valverde then retrieved a metal brazier from the side, lighting the torch behind her and sending a blaze that lit up the green. The freshmen cheered and waved their candles, and the UConn a cappella group A Completely Different Note began to sing the Husky Fight Song, their voices drifting into the night air.
The Class of 2021 has been named as the most high-achieving class accepted by UConn, an accolade that was reflected by UConn President Susan Herbst, who spoke to the students gathered.
“You are one of the most talented (groups) we’ve taken to the university,” Herbst said.
Herbst expressed that she hopes the class of 2021 will use their potential, as well as their diversity, to do good in the world.
“We know they came in completely qualified,” Herbst said. “It’s a very diverse class. I hope that they will become great citizens in their community. We need our young people to be incredibly talented and engaged. I hope to see a better America from this freshman class.”
Freshmen orientation leader Kate Sabo offered the incoming class a few words of inspiration and advice.
“I encourage all of you to share your gifts with the people around you,” Sabo said. “Today marks the start of a new journey. I look around and see a bright new beginning. I can say with certainty that all of you are going incredible places.”
Freshmen in attendance took the these words to heart and commented on the sense of school spirit that Convocation fostered.
“There just a beaming pride,” Harrison Burr, a first semester digital media and design major from Colchester, said. “It’s bustling. When I stepped on this campus, I thought, ‘I have to go here.’ “
After the torch lighting, students were welcomed onto Fairfield way for cake, ice cream and giveaways offered by the university.
“The whole process definitely helps familiarize yourself with the people around you,” said Allan Cabo, a first semester computer science engineering major from Hartford. “I definitely got a sense of the school spirit.
Harrison said that though he is a commuter student living in his hometown, he planned on attending the rest of the Husky Weekend of Welcome events.
“(I’m looking forward to) making connections,” he said. “I think it’s pretty lively.”
Marlese Lessing is the news editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.