For most, their stories began in 2002 or 2003.
In the 18 years since, the members of Bucknell University's Class of 2025 have grown into curious, talented and driven young people — in other words, exactly the kind of students who thrive at Bucknell.
While each of these students chose Bucknell as the place to continue their story, their journeys here have been remarkably unique.
One started a composting club at his high school. Another created her own summer camp for kids. A third has been volunteering at the same soup kitchen for more than half of his life.
And now these 1,031 students — members of the largest incoming class in University history — embark on their next chapter. But before they do, let's go beyond the numbers for a glimpse at the impressive individuals who make up the Class of 2025.
Each successful application, selected from a record-setting pool of 11,263, was built on a foundation of academic success.
While that was evident in facts found on high school transcripts, including rigorous courseloads and a 3.62 average GPA, it could also be seen through academic involvement that's impossible to measure on a 4.0 scale.
One student researched water filtration. Another served as an intern at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. Yet another was selected to present their findings on the composition of sand grains at the American Geophysical Union's annual meeting.
More than half of applicants for the Class of 2025 applied test-optional, meaning they chose not to include SAT or ACT scores with their application. That percentage is up from 17% for the Class of 2024 — an increase that can be attributed largely to the pandemic.
"The Class of 2025 continues our tradition of attracting top academic talent to Bucknell," says Dean of Admissions Kevin Mathes '07. "While their grades and course rigor were impressive, we were equally attracted to their curiosity, collaborative skills and ingenuity."
Their in-the-classroom accomplishments were eye-catching, but members of Bucknell's Class of 2025 kept shining long after the final bell signaled the end of the school day.
Some expanded their minds through clubs dedicated to chess, math, science, quiz bowl, robotics, mock trial, Model UN, programming and hacking, and speech and debate.
Some became leaders in student government or aligned themselves with groups devoted to saving the environment, advocating for LGBTQ rights, and working toward diversity, equity and inclusion objectives.
Others showed their artistic side by acting in plays, performing at NBA games, or creating (and, in some cases, selling) original artwork.
As for music, the Class of 2025 is more than capable of carrying a tune. If someone forming a band scouted the class, they'd find several award-winning singers, as well as musicians skilled in the cello, clarinet, drums, flute, french horn, guitar, handbells, piano, saxophone, trumpet, tuba, viola and violin.
Many Class of 2025 students are athletically gifted, too, including about 20% of the class who will bring those talents to Bucknell's 27 Division I teams.
They bring to Bucknell a record of success, winning trophies and medals in events like badminton, cheerleading, fencing, field hockey, figure skating, football, gymnastics, karate, lacrosse, water polo, wrestling and more. The class includes a Junior Olympics diver, a nationally ranked squash player, an Ironman triathlon finisher, a young woman ranked 51st in the world in CrossFit and a water polo player who competed at the Tokyo Olympics.
"Our incoming first-years showed their passion for myriad activities outside of the school day," Mathes says. "We are excited to see how these passions continue and expand as the Class of 2025 begins its Bucknell journey."
A commitment to helping others runs through every member of the Class of 2025. Their applications tell of acts of service completed not to pad a résumé but out of a devotion to help their fellow humans.
Incoming Bucknellians raised money for breast cancer research, volunteered at animal shelters and served on the Civil Air Patrol. They've worked with Amnesty International, Best Buddies, Habitat for Humanity, Key Club, the National Charity League, Operation Smile, the Red Cross, Relay for Life and many more charitable causes.
Members of the class co-founded an English as a second language tutoring program, volunteered at a sea turtle rehabilitation center and created a cake-making business with a portion of profits donated to autism research.
Even as their high school careers were interrupted by the pandemic, these students found a way to continue serving. One student founded a service that delivered necessities to community members during the pandemic, while another started a fitness program for kids over Zoom.
"This class spent a year and a half of their high school experience contending with a global pandemic, but they still made time and space to help others," Mathes says. "They have shown an immense amount of tenacity, grit and compassion — qualities that will serve them well during their years at Bucknell."
Through their personal essays, members of the Class of 2025 were able to showcase those parts of themselves that can't be quantified or easily categorized.
They wrote about building a 300-foot backyard zip line, making a documentary about a nearby watershed and managing social media accounts for 10 different businesses.
One wrote about delivering a baby goat. Another described their passion for reading tarot cards. A third shared a look at life growing up with Amish parents.
Bucknell admissions counselors read every essay — all 11,263 of them — and approached each as a chance to meet a future Bucknellian through their words.
In the end, the 1,031 members of Bucknell's Class of 2025 bring an infusion of energy to Lewisburg, helping continue a campus tradition of innovation, adventurous exploration and supportive collaboration.
"My team and I are immensely proud of the Class of 2025 for all that they accomplished inside and outside of the classroom," Mathes says. "We know they'll take charge and immerse themselves in the Bucknell experience. We cannot wait to see what they’ll do next."