Freshmen Encouraged to ‘Share Stories’ and ‘Connect’ to the Campus Community

  • Chitra Divakaruni, author of “One Amazing Thing” addresses the incoming class at Freshman Convocation. Photo by Lee Choo.

  • Associate deans process into the convocation carrying mini maces. The mace is the ceremonial symbol of the authority and longevity of the university. Dozens of faculty and staff wearing regalia attended the event. Photo by Lee Choo.

  • Students don sunglasses, one of the many freebies handed out during the convocation. More than 1,000 students attended the campus welcome event, held on the lawn of the Delmar T. Oviatt Library. Photo by Lee Choo.

  • President Dianne F. Harrison welcomed the freshman students to CSUN and encouraged them to remind her they share a “bond” in this being their first year at CSUN. Photo by Lee Choo.

  • Associated Students President Sydni Powell, a graduating senior, urged students to not be afraid of the “bulls” in their lives. Photo by Lee Choo.

  • President Dianne F. Harrison visits with students during a reception after the convocation. Photo by Lee Choo.

“Stories are what transform strangers into friends and tragedies into triumphant adventures,” author Chitra Divakaruni told more than 1,000 freshmen who attended California State University, Northridge’s annual Freshman Convocation. “When we truly listen to each others’ stories, we realize how much we all really have in common … as humans.”

Divakaruni, who authored “One Amazing Thing,” served as the keynote speaker for the convocation on Thursday, Sept. 6. The convocation is designed to formally welcome first-year students to the university. Her speech was based on her book, which tells the stories of nine fictional characters thrown together when an earthquake traps them in the basement office of an Indian embassy somewhere near San Francisco.

She said the book illustrates how sharing a story helps to “connect” individuals and “humanize” people who have nothing in common. She said in the beginning, the characters did not trust each other, but after sharing a personal story they cared about each other’s well being.

“The stories have humanized them to each other,” Divakaruni said.

“One Amazing Thing” is this year’s pick for the Freshman Common Reading Program. CSUN’s Freshman Common Reading Program is part of Academic First Year Experiences, which strives to help freshman and transfer students make a successful transition to Cal State Northridge. Programs like the Common Reading Program and the Freshman Convocation provide opportunities to link curricular with noncurricular learning so that first-year students smoothly transition to university life.

Associated Students President Sydni Powell served as the student speaker this year. She reminisced about the many lessons she has learned as a student at CSUN and urged those gathered to not to be afraid of the “bulls” in their lives.

“The struggles in your life are these bulls. They are intimidating at first,” Powell said. “You can overcome those challenges.”

President Dianne F. Harrison opened the convocation with a welcome to the students and closed with a thank you to the speakers.

“The goal of inviting prominent authors and speakers to our campus is always to inspire reflection and discussion among students and the campus community about the important issues that affect us all,” Harrison told the students. “I hope this has nurtured your commitment and desire to succeed and has helped instill some pride in you and our university.”

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