Freshmen Encouraged to Become ‘Self-Aware’ at Annual Convocation

  • President Harrison welcomes freshmen

    President Dianne F. Harrison welcomed freshmen students to CSUN at annual Freshman Convocation. Photo by Lee Choo.

  • Freshman make way to Oviatt Lawn

    Freshmen make their way to the Oviatt Library Lawn before the start of the Freshman Convocation. CSUN welcomed about 5,500 new students to CSUN this year. Photo by Lee Choo.

  • Hundreds of freshmen students listen as President Harrison and other speakers offer words of encouragement and support to the incoming students. Photo by David Hawkins.

  • Students enjoy refreshments

    Students enjoy refreshments after the Freshman Convocation. Photo by Lee Choo.

  • President Harrison poses for photo

    President Harrison poses for a photo with 2014 Dianne F. Harrison Leadership Award recipient Thelmari Raubenheimer. Photo by Lee Choo.

  • David Hawkins signs books

    Keynote speaker Drew Magary, author of The Postmortal, signs books after the convocation. Photo by David Hawkins.

Hundreds of California State University, Northridge freshman students attended the Freshman Convocation, an annual event that formally welcomes first-year students to CSUN.

The event, which was held on Sept. 4 on the Oviatt Library Lawn, included a welcome from President Dianne F. Harrison and an address by Drew Magary, author of The Postmortal: A Novel, this year’s pick for the Freshman Common Reading Program. The book is required reading for freshmen enrolled in UNIV 100 and others are encouraged to read the book as a way to stimulate a campus-wide dialogue.

“You are our future,” Harrison said. “You will innovate, you will do the research, and I hope you will help solve the problems of the world.”

Magary, a correspondent with GQ magazine and a columnist for Deadspin, served as the keynote speaker. He encouraged the students to become “self-aware.”

“You’re all very young,” said Magary to the crowd of students, faculty and staff gathered on the lawn. “Your mortality seems far off in the distance. … It seems you have all the time in the world to be superficial.

“I implore you to become more self-aware now.”

Magary’s speech was based on his book, which follows the journey of protagonist John Farrell. In the year 2019, a newly discovered “cure” to aging is given to him causing his body to stop maturing at 29 years old. Social change and issues arise as the cure gains popularity across the globe, leading to much political and moral debate.

Students were also welcomed to campus by one of CSUN’s 2014 outstanding graduating seniors. Harmanpreet Panesar ’14 (Cell and Molecular Biology) encouraged students to stay focused and believe in themselves.

“There is no outside force that can stop you from achieving your dreams,” Panesar said.

President Harrison also presented the 2014 Dianne F. Harrison Leadership Award to Thelmari Raubenheimer, a sophomore majoring in biotechnology with a 3.79 GPA.

President Harrison encouraged students to remain positive and to seek support from the university’s faculty, staff and administrators.

“I know you will succeed because you are now part of the CSUN family,” Harrison said. “But to succeed and achieve excellence, you will need to plan well for the journey — and we’re here to help you.”