In-person fall 2021 convocation celebrates 239th entering class

By Cecilia Cress
Co-News Editor

New Student Convocation was held in Decker Theatre on Sunday, Aug. 29. The event was open in person for new students and those receiving awards. All others were permitted to attend via Zoom.

President of Washington College Dr. Michael Sosulski opened the event by defining what a “convocation” is.

“A convocation, for those of you who may not know yet, is an assembly of members of a college community who come together in an official capacity to celebrate,” Dr. Sosulski said.

The celebration was for the Class of 2025, WC’s 239th entering class, and, according to Dr. Sosulski, the “official start to their academic experience and journey.”

The invocation of the ceremony was offered by Dr. Austin Lobo, associate professor of computer science, co-director of the information systems minor, and director of the pre-engineering studies program.

“Look with favor on everyone gathered here,” Dr. Lobo said. “Especially the first-year students, and the members of the staff, the faculty, the community, and those whom we honor today in this ceremony.”

“It’s actually difficult to find the words that appropriately convey the level of joy associated with your arrival here on campus for all of us,” Dr. Sosulski said. “Simply being together for this cherished event is really a victory in itself.”

President of the Student Government Association senior Katherine DeSantis also addressed and welcomed the Class of 2025.

“I can already see what a positive impact you’ll make on this community,” DeSantis said. “Your

Vice Co-Chair of the WC Board of Visitors and Governors Richard Creighton ’73 delivered greetings to the incoming first-year class, addressing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on education and incoming students.

“As Dr. Sosulski mentioned, our ability to be here in person for this special event is indeed cause for celebration,” Creighton said.

“Without knowing you, by virtue of the fact that you secured your place here, I know that collectively, you were resilient, tough, and you’ve learned to adapt and overcome. Your perspectives have shifted and probably broadened during these [uncertain] times,” he said.

Chair of the WC Alumni Board Suzanne Hughes ’91 spoke about the characteristics of the Alumni Board.

Interim Dean and Provost Dr. Michael Harvey presented the awards for academic honors for the 2020-2021 academic year.

The Alumni Scholar Award, according to Dr. Harvey, was awarded to the juniors who attain the highest academic average for the year. The recipients of this award included juniors Zeeta Abubakar, Rachel Chatfield, Emilee Cramer, Kyra Heap, Destiny Hunter, Eniya Jaber, Gabriel Johnson, Sharon Niedringhaus, Emma Radinsky, Takeyah Selby, Max Tucker, and Emily Turfitt.

The Visitors and Governors Scholar Award was given to seniors who retained the highest academic average for their class. This award was given to Nathaniel Braddock, Analiese Bush, Jack Dodsworth, Elizabeth Hay, and Erica Quinones.

Dr. Harvey also awarded the Middendorf Foundation Scholarship to: Braddock, DeSantis, Katherine Desrosiers, Mason Drummey, Joshua Gastineau, Hay, Quinones, Kyle Rufo, Max Ruvo, and Benjamin Ruvo.

The Environmental Studies Scholar award was given to Emma Cease, and the Eleanor Taylor ’44 and Francis Taylor Chemistry Prize was awarded to Hannah Flayhart.

Professor of Biology Dr. James Windelborn, recipient of the Alumni Associations Award for Distinguished Teaching, stressed the importance of embracing the diversity of each incoming student’s identities to pave the way for a more inclusive future at the College.

“[Diversity] is a vital component of humanity’s progress toward a more rewarding and just future,” Dr. Windelborn said. “This is an incredibly diverse class that’s coming in. You’re diverse in so many different ways, and we need to support that and celebrate it.”

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