The university welcomed more than 2,850 new students to campus this semester, challenging them to make their unique college and future careers count.
More than 1,672 first-year students — with higher average SAT scores and high school GPAs than the university has ever seen — and nearly 1,200 transfer students bring the school’s undergraduate enrollment to more than 10,000 students, a new record.
At convocation, new students heard stories of success from leaders on campus and beyond.
Chancellor Marty Meehan ’78 challenged new students to think long term, identifying their steps toward excellence early.
“Our goal is to create opportunities for you,” Meehan said. “Your goal should be to take advantage of as many of them as possible.”
Opportunities like internships, service-learning, the DifferenceMaker program and studying abroad offer students the chance to personalize their time on campus, a step keynote speaker Deanne Belle strongly encouraged.
Belle studied mechanical engineering but struggled with her decision, thinking that it would narrow her opportunities and count out her interests in travel and media. When Belle realized that her non-engineering interests were what made her path unique, the future opened up. Belle went on to design military opto-mechanics, travel the world and host design and DIY TV shows.
“Find a way to make your studies and career uniquely yours,” said Belle, whose next project is partnering with NASA to send a 3D printer into space and educate kids on the technology’s potential. “Think out of the box because you might just get a nugget of goodness.”
Students Thinking of the Future From Day One
Belle’s talk and the DifferenceMaker pitch contest, in which students voted to award participants money for fuel-efficiency, community service and music-focused projects, got students thinking.
“Deanne has great charisma and it was exciting to hear what she’s done with her degree and interests,” said Chrissy Shane, a new Manning School of Business student from Boxborough. “Her challenge to be innovative and the DifferenceMaker challenge got me thinking of how I can use my ideas to make an impact right away.”
Derek VanDyke, one of 360 new students in the Honors College, hopes to enter the medical field after studying chemical engineering. He also sees a DifferenceMaker challenge in his future, but is enjoying getting to know the campus and new friends for now.
“Moving in to Leitch Hall was easy and exciting with the renovations. The opening weekend has been really fun,” said VanDyke while perusing campus clubs at the student activities cookout after convocation. “I’m looking forward to getting to know new people and becoming active on campus.”
Student involvement and campus spirit is already showing in the new students, who were the first class to sing the university’s new fight song "River Hawk Pride," premiered at convocation.
As students attend their first classes, meet new friends and join clubs, they’ll have Belle’s words to remember.
“Imagine the impossible. And then make it your reality.”