New Student Convocation Welcomes Class of 2022


Victoria Bresnahan – News Editor

In spite of their diversity, large grouping, hometowns, or if they live out of the country, at the New Student Convocation President Joe Bertolino said the class of 2022 has a lot in common with each other.

“Students of immigrants,” said Bertolino, during the ceremony, “first generation college students, students who struggled to find themselves during high school, students who lost loved ones, students who overcame challenges, students who wrote about their faith, families, and those who inspire them—these are your classmates.”

The class of 2022 consists of 1,545 freshmen—one of the largest freshmen classes the university has accepted in several years, said Bertolino. Of those students, 35 percent identify as male and 62 percent identify as female. The class consists of 52 percent students of color, and 95 percent of them are from Connecticut.

Maria Diamantis, president of faculty senate, presented a speech of the obstacles she faced when immigrating to the US on her own and receiving an education about 45 years ago. A graduate of Southern’s education master’s program, she said several faculty and staff members at the university “opened doors” for her while she attended.

“I succeeded because I reached out to those who supported me,” said Diamantis. “When they opened the door for me, and it looked like a good fit, I followed it and I didn’t give up. I encourage you to do the same.”

“I did get a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering,” said Diamnatis, “as a matter of fact I was the first woman to graduate with such at that university. And, the first one to graduate and get a university degree for my family.” (16)

Student Government Association president Alexis Zhontomi led the time-honored tradition of passing the torch of knowledge amongst six members of the newly inducted class of 2022.

“From the earliest of time, the flaming torch has been a symbol of knowledge and learning that dispels the darkness of ignorance,” said Zhotomi. “It’s our symbol for learning at Southern as we expand our horizons gain insights into understanding our world, and prepare to take our places in society when we finish our collegiate duties.”

Tracey Tyree, vice president of student affairs, formally presented the class of 2022 per the completion of the torch of knowledge ceremony and the class’ commitment to the university’s resolutions of commitment—

“This ceremony has become a tradition at the university having been participated in by entering classes before you,” said Tyree. “It is a tangible sign of our commitment of our community who cares deeply about each other and the world around us.” (22)

Bertolino encouraged new students to get involved in the university’s different clubs, internships and opportunities. In addition, he said if students connect with others they will learn how to interact those with disparate opinions.

“We will not tolerate hate in this community,” said Bertolino. “We will not tolerate racism, sexism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, or any form of bigotry what so ever. At the same time, we also value the right to free speech and the airing of different perspectives—even some that you might not agree with.”

Photo Credit: Victoria Bresnahan

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