Freshman Convocation Rallies New Students to Work Toward Bright Futures

  • Freshmen congregate to the 2014 Freshman Convocation at Matador Square. Photo by Lee Choo.

  • Freshmen say the Pledge of Allegiance as one at the 2014 Freshman Convocation in Matador Square. Photo by Lee Choo.

  • California State University, Northridge President Dianne F. Harrison wears her doctoral regalia at the 2014 Freshman Convocation, surrounded by deans and vice presidents. Photo by Lee Choo.

Remember being a freshman on a new, enormous university campus and thinking, “I have a long way to go before I graduate?”

For more than 5,000 freshmen at California State University, Northridge, the annual Freshman Convocation, beginning at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 10, in Matador Square, aims at shedding light on the end goal for students — graduation.

As the students walk in lines through Matador Walk, they mirror a similar route many will take as they head toward their seats at commencement in a few years. While they filter into their seats on the Oviatt Lawn on Sept. 10, CSUN President Dianne F. Harrison, the vice presidents and academic deans will stand at the top of the library steps in full academic regalia, welcoming the newest members of the Matador family.

Christopher Aston, assistant director of student development, is a coordinator of the convocation each year. He said the event helps freshmen get acclimated to being at the university.

“It is an academic welcome in nature,” he said. “They will see the regalia, they will see the robes and they will see the pomp and circumstance. But what they get to really see is the bookend to their journey in academia at CSUN.”

Highlights of the event are expected to include the awarding of the Dianne F. Harrison Leadership Award to outstanding freshman Kenia Lopez; a speech by an outstanding outgoing senior, former CSU Student Trustee and Associated Students Vice President Talar Alexanian; and the keynote address by David Levithan, author of the freshman common reading book, “Every Day.” The attendees will be able to meet with Levithan prior to the event for an hour-long question-and-answer session.

Aston said he is looking forward to the freshmen’s reaction to this year’s convocation.

“I’m interested in seeing what [they] think about it,” he said. “At times, we’ve seen their faces are smiling, but it’s not until the middle of the convocation, when they’re lauded with jubilation, their faces lighten.”

Director of Student Development Patrick Bailey said he is excited for this year’s convocation, since it highlights the future dreams of the freshmen.

“It’s the first time I will get to see it,” said Bailey, who came to CSUN earlier this year. “I’m looking forward to seeing the freshmen as part of the [academic] process, where they understand that their goal is ending here [as a graduate]. I’m excited to see their hopes and goals on their faces.”

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