Class of 2021 joins Laker student body

By Theresa Mueller | 8/27/17 11:00pm


GVL / Courtesy - GVNow Student Senate President Jonathan Bowman

It’s official: The class of 2021 is here. After a few days of transitional events, approximately 4,000 new students were formally welcomed by Grand Valley State University’s faculty, staff, students, alumni and president at the Convocation ceremony Friday, Aug. 25.

The Convocation was held in the Fieldhouse Arena to accommodate the large mass of students, faculty, staff, alumni and family members. The ceremony consisted of motivational music, a video presentation and welcoming remarks from various speakers.

Those speaking at the event included Stephen Glass, acting vice provost for student affairs and dean of students; Maria Cimitile, provost and executive vice president for academic and students affairs; Felix Ngassa, chair of the University Academic Senate; GVSU alumni Briauna and Brittany Taylor; Jonathan Bowman, student senate president; and GVSU President Thomas Haas.

At the ceremony, Glass provided opening remarks with an opportunity for reflection. He asked students to think about the journey of accomplishments that had led them to GVSU.

“Time at GVSU is simply another opportunity for accomplishments, but not without challenges," he said. "It is natural when we are challenged. The accomplishment and struggle is what changes you. ... You are part of the Laker family now. We struggle and strive together.”

Ngassa and Haas both touched on the reality of individual differences within the GVSU community, as well as how this reality must be met with respect.

“GVSU values (the) integrity of each person,” Haas said. “Respect others voicing opinions. ... We value civility and respect.”

Ngassa encouraged students to engage with peers who hold similar and dissimilar views for the purpose of building relationships and connections. 

“Welcome to the journey of building relationships and making connections, aka the 'Laker effect,'” he said.

Briauna and Brittany Taylor offered complementary advice by encouraging students to seek conversation outside their comfort zones. They urged students to use their time at GVSU to broaden—not narrow—their perspectives, believing this would set students up for success.

The speakers at the ceremony also discussed some of the many resources readily available to students during their academic studies at GVSU, including tutoring and advising sessions, the university libraries, and professors.

“You are the reason we (professors) are here,” Ngassa said. “Make an effort to connect with professors, get to know (them) and give (them) an opportunity to know you.”

Establishing relationships with professors and using additional academic resources can help catalyze the pursuit of knowledge within the GVSU community. Cimitile touched on the importance of liberal education in the 21st century, as it can serve to equip students with important critical thinking skills.

“Liberal education is not something given to you, but earned,” Cimitile said.

Haas also touched on the topic of student growth.

“If you continue (to learn), you’ll never cease to grow,” Haas said. “Passion and growth are abundant at Grand Valley.”

Haas reminded new students that learning takes place both inside and outside the classroom and requires hard work. Haas assured students that, in addition to their hard work, there would plenty of opportunities for fun.

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