OSU’s freshmen take part in the annual New Student Walk and Convocation.

OSU New Student Walk
OSU New Student Walk

It was an ideal day for a walk. The sun made an entrance from behind the clouds and shined on more than 1,500 incoming OSU freshmen, who were gathering in the MU Quad in preparation for the annual New Student Walk and Convocation. The symbolic march to Gill Coliseum mimics the one they will make to their commencement in four years, when they become the Class of 2012. Attendance at the New Student Walk has risen every year; however, this year’s turnout is estimated at an all-time high of 1,800 students, friends and family members.

“I heard it is the future class of 2012. It is something my friends and I thought would be really fun to do in order to go out and meet new people,” said Kimberly Melendez-Rivera, an incoming biology major from Alaska. “The people have been the best part of my week. They are just so friendly. They come up to you and say ‘hi’ and make you want to do the same thing.”

The Walk is coordinated mainly by staff members of New Student Programs and Family Outreach (NSPFO), with additional help from faculty, staff and student volunteers. “The whole campus comes together to organize CONNECT Week,” said NSPFO director Kris Winter.

“[The New Student Walk] was started to increase a sense of welcome and tradition for new students,” Winter said. “The idea was to create an event that would integrate them into their academic future, thus, re-creating the same walk they will be completing four years later at their commencement ceremony.”

There was a sense of anxiety and anticipation in the Quad as the students prepared to march — some fidgeted nervously while others rapidly discussed living arrangements and class schedules on their cell phones. They were supported, though, by faculty members representing the degree programs they teach for, upperclassmen who came to see the event, close friends and parents. As the students filed into Gill, they were greeted with cheers, chants and applause.

“I thought it was pretty cool to have the upperclassmen out there,” said Randy Solanksy, an electrical and computer engineering major.

Among the incoming freshmen, there are 89 different majors declared; 125 students have been accepted into the University Honors College; and 166 were ranked first in their high school graduating class.

At Gill, new students heard from Larry Roper, vice provost of student affairs; keynote speaker Peggy McIntosh, founder and co-director of the National SEED Project on Inclusive Curriculum and the associate director of Wellesley Centers for Women; and OSU President Ed Ray.
“If you get engaged in things that inspire you, the odds of graduating go up drastically,” Ray told students.

Students weren’t the only ones participating in the walk and convocation. Many parents and families joined them as well, including Katina Atz, whose daughter is an incoming business finance major.

“The walk was fabulous. We loved it,” Atz said. “What a beautiful campus. It’s gorgeous with the trees and old buildings. Our daughter’s a freshman, so we are new to this experience.”

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