After my first day of being on my own without an orientation schedule, I was excited to join Fairfield University’s Class of 2014 on Bellarmine Lawn as faculty members, staff, and alumni welcomed us into the community through Fairfield’s annual freshman convocation. Held on the afternoon of Sept. 2, 2010, the convocation began with the President’s welcome and the Glee Club’s stunning renditions of the “Star Spangled Banner” and Fairfield’s alma mater song. Afterwards, 3 sophomores were honored for their exceptional writing pieces and praised by their former professors.
Next, underneath particularly strong sun rays for a September afternoon, Dr. Renee White, Professor of Sociology and Anthropology and Director of the Black Studies Program, stepped up to the podium and delivered a moving speech about global citizenship and diversity. She urged everyone in the audience to make a personal commitment to begin to accept each other and diversity on a fundamental level. She reminded us that world change doesn’t always happen by large companies or groups; it starts with one person – one ripple in the water – that will, in time, transform into a sea change, so to speak.
After Dr. White’s speech, The Rev. Gerald Blaszczak, S.J., the University chaplain, continued this theme by giving an example of an author who had once written that colleges and universities should never try to transform their students, but rather teach them only what’s needed then send them on their way. To the contrary, Fr. Blaszczak argued that our time as students here at Fairfield should be one in which we grow, learn, and push ourselves to become the best we can possibly become, and more. In fact, accepting and promoting a diverse and global community, along with evolving as a “whole” person in mind, body, and spirit, fits in with our everyday values and teachings as a Jesuit university.
The convocation introduced the freshman class to this new and exciting way of thinking as we begin our four years here at Fairfield. As a member of the Class of 2014, I was both moved and inspired by both Dr. White and Fr. Blaszczak, whose high hopes for my class and assurance that we will be able to impact the rest of the world makes me feel as though we could. As members of a strong and value-based University community, our class can work together for the next four years to improve our lives and our world, and perhaps attempt to go above and beyond expectations.
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