Freshman class encouraged to ‘aim high and follow through’
Published: Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Updated: Monday, August 29, 2011 16:08
UNO's first ever Freshman Convocation took place Aug. 26 at noon in the Sapp Fieldhouse. In attendance was the freshman class, along with parents, family and other supporters.
The UNO band filtered in at 11:30 a.m. and took their place for the processional number. Also arriving early were the Sensational Sophomores, second-year students who received a 3.75 or higher grade-point average during their first year on campus. These students were given reserved seating, as they would be recognized later in the ceremony.
At 11:45 a.m., freshman students and their supporters arrived, taking seats in the fieldhouse bleachers.
The band began playing as noon approached, and the audience stood for the procession of speakers and college deans. After taking their seats onstage, Student Body President-Regent Liz O'Connor rose to introduce those onstage with her.
First to speak was Chancellor Dr. John Christensen, who gave a warm welcome to the class of 2015.
"102 years ago, UNO's first 26 students began the journey that you are starting out on today," Christensen said. "Now, you can be a part of that number."
Addressing the fear of being on their own in an unfamiliar place, Christensen encouraged the freshmen to look to their peers.
"You come to us from many different places," Christensen said. "but one of the things you all share is the decision to continue your education and brighten your future."
Next to the podium was Regent Bob Whitehouse, chairman of the University of Nebraska Board of Regents. Speaking on behalf of the entire Board, Whitehouse urged the new students to utilize everything UNO had to offer them.
"I hope you will take advantage of all the resources available to you," Whitehouse said. "Deans, family, friends, professors, coworkers; these are all people who are here to help and want to see you succeed."
Whitehouse then invited B.J. Reed to speak. Reed, interim senior vice chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs, spoke about the four keys to success in their college journey. Connect, communicate, commit and control. If students stick to these principles, Reed said, they are sure to accomplish great things in their time at UNO.
Finally addressing the Sensational Sophomores was Dr. Thomas Wallace, associate vice chancellor for Student Affairs.
"Academically, you will find no better role models than these Sensational Sophomores," Wallace said.
The sophomores and those parents who were in attendance were then invited to stand for recognition, followed by the freshman class and their parents. During this time, freshmen were asked to take the pins they received upon arrival and attach them to their clothing. The pins symbolized the excellence they would strive for at UNO.
Dr. Scott Snyder, associate vice chancellor of Research and Creative Activity, then spoke to the students about the importance of research and the opportunities it could bring them. He encouraged students to perform research outside their own comfort zones. Without doing this, students will never know all the doors that can be open to them, Snyder said.
Representing the UNO Alumni Association was its President and CEO Lee Denker, who presented the freshman audience with a math problem.
"You, plus your degree, plus the UNO alumni network equals unlimited opportunity," Denker said. "The UNO Alumni Association consists of about 90,000 members, and nearly 40,000 of those members live within an hour of this building."
Denker named many UNO alumni who had gone on to do great things, both in Omaha and in the greater community.
"Always remember to keep the end in mind," Denker said. "You do that, and the UNO Alumni Association will have a spot open for you."
Approaching the podium for final comments, O'Connor shared some of her own advice to the freshman class.
"The most important thing you can do in college is maintain consistency," O'Connor said. "Aim high and follow through."
After the ceremony, a reception, complete with refreshments and live music by the UNO Jazz Ensemble, followed in the Milo Bail Student Center Ballroom.