To welcome incoming freshmen, Utah Valley University held its third annual freshman convocation on Monday night. Freshmen and their families were addressed by Associate Professor Laurie Harrop-Purser, UVU alum Kiera Scholz, UVU President Matthew S. Holland and UVUSA President Tyler Brklacich.
During the addresses, Daniel Fairbanks, dean of the College of Science & Health, sculpted a model of Martin Luther King Jr., who inspired the theme of the evening. Fairbanks started with a cube of clay and by the end of the convocation, had completed the display. An estimated 5500 attended, with about 1700 of those being new freshmen.
Scholz, who grew up in poverty and in foster care, spoke about the challenges of education and encouraged students to graduate, regardless of obstacles.
“Never, never give up. It’s worth the work. Those treasures of learning and knowledge are worth the work, worth the effort and the wait,” said Scholz.
Holland emphasized his three goals: inclusivity, engaged learning and seriousness.
“On this campus, we talk about student success as the heart of our mission. There are a lot of things that campuses can become famous for, and we’ll do those things too; we’ll do great research, we’ll be involved in economic development, we’ll solve world problems, but mostly what we’re about is you students,” said Holland.
To complete the convocation, Brklacich and his fellow student government officers, the UVU Spirit Squad, Willy Wolverine and the Green Man Group led everyone in attendance in the UVU fight song.
“The convocation was solid. I really liked the speech from Matthew Holland,” said freshman David Hays. “It’s definitely what you make it. The biggest thing is that you can have a great education if you want it.”
The convocation kicks off the First Year Experience at UVU. The program also includes the freshman reading program, personalized academic advisement, jumpstart orientation, startsmart emails, service days and two specific courses designed for freshmen.
During the convocation, the students signed the UVCommit pledge. The pledge is a goal to earn a degree. Martha Wilson, FYE coordinator, implemented the pledge in 2011 in an effort to encourage retention.
“I’d always planned on going to college, so it’s not an official commitment, but more redefining what I’m doing,” said Kristi Workman, incoming freshman, regarding UVCommit.
Daniel Hickman took his first university classes over the summer, but still felt motivated by the convocation. He also signed the UVCommit pledge.
“The more you write a commitment down on a piece of paper, the more likely you are to succeed in it,” said Hickman.
Tiffany Frandsen | News Editor | @Tiffany_mf
Tiffany is the Deputy Managing Editor for Spring 2015. Follow her on twitter @tiffany_mf