Freshmen should not let others define who they are, urged author David Levithan, the keynote speaker on Sept. 10 at California State University, Northridge’s Freshman Convocation, an annual event that formally welcomes first-year students to the university.
Levithan, author of the Freshman Common Reading book, Every Day, spoke to one of the largest gatherings of freshmen ever at this annual event. His remarks were inspired by the plot of Every Day, the story of “A,” who wakes up in a different body at the beginning of each day.
Levithan used this premise to explore the idea of identity and the labels that others attach to a person’s physical appearance. He spoke about how people should try to overcome these stereotypes.
“You have to choose how to define yourself,” Levithan said. “It is too easy to fall back on how everybody sees you, or how you think everybody sees the way you look. You have every right to be the human being that you want to be. You have every right to be in whatever body you choose, to identify as whatever gender you choose, to love whomever you choose — and don’t let anybody ever tell you differently.”
Approximately 2,600 students made their way to the Oviatt Lawn to attend the convocation, an event that welcomes students as Matadors and sets the stage for future success. CSUN President Dianne F. Harrison emphasized that students hold the keys to their futures.
“The university’s first priority is your success,” Harrison said. “The faculty, staff and administrators of CSUN are focused on providing programs, resources and services to support you. But this effort must also be a partnership with you, our students, and depends greatly on your commitment to your education and personal success. Have confidence in yourself, but understand the work may not be easy. You are the future. You will innovate. You will do the research. You will solve the problems of our world. I know you can succeed because you are now part of the CSUN family — but to succeed and achieve excellence, you will need to plan well for the journey. And we will be here to help you.”
Former CSU Student Trustee and Associated Students Vice President Talar Alexanian, a 2015 outstanding senior graduate, urged students to take advantage of the wealth of resources the campus has to offer.
“There are endless possibilities, as long as your eyes are open to finding them,” Alexanian said.
President Harrison also presented the 2015 Dianne Harrison Leadership Award to Kenia Lopez, a sophomore majoring in journalism with a 3.51 GPA.