On September 7 2012, the Honors Program class of 2016 filed into Smith 120 for the traditional Freshman Welcome, many not quite knowing what to expect. Rebecca LaPlaca, a first-year art major, attended the event with her floor. “None of us really knew how close-knit and family-like the Honors community is” she comments. “When the professors started talking, we could tell that they genuinely wanted us there and that the “freshman” stigma didn’t really apply here.”
Faculty and administrators from all across the University came to give the new class a warm Honors Program welcome. Special guest President Patrick T. Harker encouraged students to engage with the world around them: “Because your ultimate challenge—the challenge of all scholarship—is one of service, to apply your gifts to pressing areas of need, and be the leaders we know you’re capable of being” he said. Honors Program Director Michael Arnold greeted students and faculty in a video and shared with them lessons he learned from his father. He encouraged students to “Enjoy ice cubes [the little things in life], challenge yourself, explore the world, and be generous.”
One of the highlights of the Freshman Welcome was the traditional Russell Fellows skit. This year, the fellows based their skit on imagined events at the Olympic Village. “The Russell Fellow Welcome Skit was perfectly executed, and it was apparent how much time, energy and effort went into making us laugh and feel further connected to our Russell Fellow,” says Rebecca. The Class of 2016 also became Honors Program donors. Students were asked to bring $1 to the event and raised $194. A committee of Honors freshmen decided that the money will be used towards set-up costs and prizes for an Honors Program 2016 class t-shirt.
Sarah Georger, co-curricular coordinator, was instrumental in planning this year’s welcome event. “I was excited and pleased at how well everything came together. Students and faculty in attendance had a great time watching the Russell Fellows skit, Ms. Kerrane and Dr. Arnold had strong notes of welcome, and it was an honor to have President Harker speak. I think students and faculty made some great connections at the reception, too!” The reception that followed was held in the beautiful lobby of the Louise and David Roselle Center for the Arts building and provided students with the opportunity to mingle with professors and Honors Program staff.