Stanislaus State newcomers got a touch of pomp and tips on circumstance at Monday’s Freshman Convocation, as University leaders and alumni in full academic regalia stepped forward to share their wisdom.
“You are our magnificent entry cohort of 2017 and our graduating Class of 2021,” said President Ellen Junn, greeting around 1,000 students in red Warrior t-shirts given out for the event. It was the first event to be held in the newly refurbished Fitzpatrick Arena, black gowns a startling contrast against the shimmering wood floor.
Some 1,438 freshmen start classes Wednesday, a Stan State record. It is also the University’s most diverse cohort, with 66 percent of students identifying as Latino, 8 percent as Asian, 3 percent as black and 16 percent as white. Three-quarters are first-generation students, and 9 in 10 hail from San Joaquin Valley towns within an hour’s drive of campus.
Students who feel overwhelmed at first are not alone, Junn said, adding, “You belong here at Stan State and we believe in you. That’s why we chose you,” she said.
“You can do it,” Junn stressed throughout her talk. She advised students to “expect the unexpected,” pointing out the average college student will change majors five to seven times before graduation. “Stay open to learning. Continue to grow,” she said.
“Never give up,” said alumna Adrian Harrell, telling the group college is all about learning to solve problems.
Provost Kimberly Greer urged students to plan on taking 30 units each year to stay on track for a 2021 graduation. She also encouraged them to take advantage of the University’s new interactive online planner to anticipate necessary classes and financial aid available for summer and winter sessions for an on-time finish. Full-time students are far more likely to graduate, she said.
Those graduates can look forward to earnings of around $44,900, the Stan State average for recent graduates, Junn said, a figure that helped bounce Stan State to the nation’s top public college in value-added rankings compiled by MONEY Magazine.
“The best advice I can give you is to jump,” Associated Students, Inc., President Brandon Demers said. “Jump at every opportunity,” he said, listing campus groups and activities. “These next four years are going to go by all too fast, so make the most of it.”
Dean of Students Matthew Lopez-Phillips urged students to get involved with activities, attend Warrior home games and become a part of campus life, a proven plus in graduation rates.
A 2017 graduate, Jonathan Walters, told the freshmen of his struggles to get into college, and once there to master the coursework. “What I learned outside the classroom would be as useful as what I learned inside the classroom,” he said. “The University experience helps us to understand that we must learn how to take our falls in life and then get right back up.”