Class of 2019 Officially Welcomed at Convocation Ceremony

Monday, August 17, 2015

University of North Carolina Wilmington leaders and faculty gathered to welcome the Class of 2019 during convocation Aug. 17 at Trask Coliseum. The formal ceremony also marks the beginning of the academic year. Classes for the fall 2015 semester begin on Aug 19.

Convocation was a part of a series of welcome events for new students. Before the ceremony, student leaders and more than 100 faculty members met with freshmen and offered their perspective on academic success. The first-year students then walked to Trask together, known as the annual “Trask Trek.”

“You have each worked hard to get to this point, but this is just the very beginning of your journey,” Marilyn Sheerer, interim provost and vice chancellor of academic affairs, told the students. “We are very pleased that you have chosen this community of scholars. While here, you will be challenged by the faculty to expand your horizons, and we expect you to be engaged in learning both in and out of the classroom.”

She challenged the students to take advantage of opportunities at UNCW and to remember that they are the architects of their future.

During his remarks, Chancellor Jose V. Sartarelli answered the question, “What are we?” In addition to having a strong liberal arts and sciences programs and professional schools, UNCW has excelled in applied learning and serves as an example for sister institutions in the state, he said.

“We have shown great disposition to engage the community, and we have done that very well,” Sartarelli continued. “And increasingly, we are recognized by the outside world as a great institution.” Sartarelli shared the university’s rankings, including UNCW being named a “Best Southeastern School” by The Princeton Review.

“Now that I have shared with you what we are, what do we want to become as we go forward?” he asked. “We want to become better, much better. We want to become even more engaged with our community. And we want to become a lot more global.” Sartarelli encouraged students to study hard, improve themselves and give flight to their imagination while at UNCW. “The next four years network, network, network,” he added. “Some of your best friends here will be your friends forever. They will help you and you will help them. It becomes not just a community of scholars but extends to a community of citizens working together.”

Watson College of Education faculty member Brad Walker, the keynote speaker, told students their decision to become a Seahawk has impacted their lives for good in many ways. UNCW’s University Studies program and the fact that this is a place where the students come first are just two examples of that positive impact, he said.

“University Studies classes are designed to broaden and deepen your education,” he said. “Look at University Studies as rich invitations to learn about and broaden your minds, capabilities and dispositions in different ways.”

The faculty focuses on undergraduates as their number one priority, he continued. “We are dedicated to helping you learn and be successful. So, we would like to extend an invitation to each of you – come learn with us. Take advantage of our commitment to learning with you. Become a committed, relentless learner, not just a student.”

One thing Walker has learned is that the journey is the treasure, he shared.

“In other words, enjoy the moment. While the goal of graduation is an important one, don't lose sight of the power of the journey along the way,” he urged.

Donovan Keehner, 18, of the Outer Banks, is the first in his family to attend college. He plans to major in statistics.

“I have been looking forward to going to college since my freshman year in high school,” he said.  “I’m excited about the whole college experience.”

View UNCW's Welcome Week in photos.