UNCW Officially Welcomes the Class of 2025

Monday, August 16, 2021

New Seahawks embarked on a great expedition of learning and discovery following words of encouragement from UNCW leaders during the fall convocation on Aug. 16 at Trask Coliseum.

Convocation is a part of UNCWelcome, a six-week programming series offering opportunities for students to dive into the UNCW experience while balancing the transition to college. The ceremony also marks the official start of the academic year.

Due to COVID-19 safety protocols, the ceremony was limited to students only; faculty and staff were invited to view the ceremony via live stream. Before convocation, students took part in a 2025 class photo on the intramural fields and the annual “Trek to Trask” to attend the convocation ceremony.

James Winebrake, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, told the Class of 2025 they would discover who they are and who they will be during their journey, and UNCW faculty and staff will be there to help along the way.

“We want to educate you to be change-makers. We want to advise you to have transformative, positive impacts on our world,” Winebrake said. “We want to mentor you so that you can tackle the world’s most challenging problems – whether those problems are found in your community or on the other side of the globe. Our calling as members of this great university community is to help you succeed in one of the most fulfilling journeys you will ever take.”

Chancellor Jose Sartarelli welcomed students to a community “where Giving Flight to Imagination inspires everything we do.”

“At UNCW, you will have opportunities to pursue knowledge that will lead to a fulfilling career; discover your passions, which will help you build rewarding lives; find new friends, who will help you learn about yourself in meaningful ways; and grow as citizens of a world that will look to you as leaders,” he said.

Sartarelli encouraged students to expand their minds and challenged themselves to go farther than they thought possible. “Only you can decide which path you will take and how high you will soar,” he added.

Keynote speaker Sabrina Cherry, assistant professor in the School of Health and Applied Human Sciences, presented students with one statement—"You made it!” – and one question – “Now what will you do?”

“Will you show up for class and engage in co-creating a vibrant learning environment? Will you keep an open mind as faculty members present new ideas that may stretch you beyond your typical train of thoughts?” Cherry asked. “Will you be a beneficial presence in co-fostering not only safe spaces, but brave spaces? Will you be a compassionate advocate for inclusivity and equity? Class of 2025, you made it! Now, what will you do?”

Cherry encouraged students to remain open to the unimaginable, to learn and live by the Seahawk Respect Compact and to grow through the challenges.

“These next four years are incredibly unique. Be present. Get active. Use the resources and expertise to your advantage,” she said. “This is your opportunity to shine, to grow, to know and to share. You’ve arrived on our campus at a very unique time. We are reimagining what it means to be a collective campus, to amplify meaningful work that includes our local community, and to be a university that represents a global society. Use this opportunity wisely. Don’t be a passive bystander – join in!”

-- Venita Jenkins