LEWISBURG, Pa. — As first-year student Lauren Wessan looked around the Academic Quad Tuesday evening, surrounded by other students with lit candles in hand, it hit her; she, along with the 956 other first-year and transfer students, are officially Bucknellians.
"It was beautiful to see, and a really special feeling," Wessan said. "I just thought it was really neat for all of us to be standing there in a circle around the quad, and thinking about how many students came before us and did the same thing, and how we really are part of the Bucknell family." || Watch a video of Bucknell's 2012 Convocation.
For many students, Convocation brought into focus the magnitude of the challenges and opportunities awaiting them as they begin their Bucknell journey.
"Across its history, as today, Bucknell has been known for offering amazing opportunities inside and outside the classroom for leadership, culture and growth," Bucknell President John Bravman told the group of students. "Our alumni would tell you, 'Make the most of these opportunities.' You will never again encounter one place with more to offer you than Bucknell. Take chances at leadership, service, participation — the things that promise to teach you something that will make you proud."
Taking chances inevitably leaders to some failures, Bravman explained. He shared his own experiences with failing — how he struggled as a freshman at Stanford, and later how he failed his doctoral qualifying exam the first time he took it. "I am well acquainted with the pain and fear of failure and defeat," Bravman said. "But I also stand before you, now as your president, because of what I determined to do with those failures and defeats."
Amy Wolaver, an associate professor of economics and co-director of the Bucknell Institute for Public Policy, delivered a similar message while addressing the Class of 2016 during Friday's Matriculation Ceremony. "I hope you fail," she told the students. "I am not talking about the kind of failure that occurs when students don't do the work, but if you succeed easily at everything you do here at Bucknell, you have wasted an opportunity to push yourself academically and to grow."
The message was well received by Julia Pilzer, a first-year economics major. "After listening to those speeches, you realize you're starting here at Bucknell with so many different opportunities and you have the chance to really evolve and become your own person," she said. "I only can hope I do everything I want to do during my time here over the next four years."
Additionally, the significance of passing through the Christy Mathewson Memorial Gateway was not lost on the newest members of the Bucknell family. The path symbolizes their entrance into the Bucknell community.
"In the moment, you're sort of wondering what's going on," said Kyle Deviney, who plans to major in engineering. "But when you stop and think about walking back through those gates four years from now, and all that we'll experience between now and then, it's a pretty powerful symbol."
Bravman told the class it had joined a community where, "all you dream is possible. As you define yourselves at Bucknell, as you broaden your mind and choose who you will become, as you explore the role that you can play in the world as your best self, you are also defining the Class of 2016. And, in fact, you are defining the future of this University, which now, and forevermore, is yours."
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