Incoming students sit in the audience and smile for the camera

New students greeted with messages of understanding and possibility at Convocation 

September 7, 2022
By: Rebecca Cross

More than 400 incoming students were warmly welcomed with messages of encouragement, support, and understanding on a rainy Convocation Sept. 6.

President Barry M. Maloney set the tone for the ceremony by encouraging students to access their own inner strength to have a successful and fulfilling college experience. “The adaptability and persistence you’ve already shown as you made your way through this unprecedented pandemic sets you apart,” he said. While acknowledging the roadblocks students might encounter, President Maloney emphasized, “You are well equipped to do the work. Never doubt that you’ve got this!”

The Convocation speaker, Seth A. Pitts ’10, speaking for their potential future selves, encouraged the new students to make the most of the opportunities that come their way. The Worcester native shared the challenges he faced as a Worcester State student—and the support he received from faculty and staff—and he shared the strategies that led to his successful career in the finance sector. He is chief financial officer and executive vice president of Bay State Savings Bank and being recognized as one of Worcester’s “40 under Forty” by the Worcester Business Journal. “Keep taking the small steps forward, and choose progress over perfection,” he said. “Don’t worry about what will go wrong, prepare for what will go right.”

New students descend the staircase in the Wellness CenterFor several years, the university has taken steps to increase the diversity of the student body and faculty and staff. In that spirit, the new executive director of Worcester State’s celebrated Latino Education Institute, María Juncos-Gautier, welcomed students in Spanish: “A todos, les deseo que sea un año lleno de mucha satisfacción y grandes éxitos!”

Every speaker encouraged students to seek help from their professors. Provost Lois Wims said, “Many of you hope to have an important impact on society and the world. Worcester State University—all of us here—can help prepare you for the many challenges you’ll face as you take on this task.” And Student Government Association President Erica Hanlon said, “Throughout my time here, I have been amazed at the endless support that professors and faculty have offered me both in the classroom with research opportunities, and outside of the classroom with extracurricular advising.”

Another theme in the speakers’ remarks was for students to take risks and challenge themselves. “Get involved! Open your eyes and your mind to the endless possibilities here, and don’t hold back!” Hanlon said. “Each one of you brings with you a history, a story, background, perspective, and a unique way to put it all together. Don’t undercut your own ideas, and be bold,” Erika Briesacher, Ph.D., from the Department of History and Political Science, advised.

The afternoon’s message of possibility was summed up by President Maloney: “The rest of your story begins here today.”

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