A big welcome to the newest members of the SU community
“Y.O.L.O.—You only live once.” Travis G. Mason ’06 energized an estimated crowd of 6,000 people at the Carrier Dome Friday with these words of wisdom and encouragement for the Class of 2016. “College is a precious moment,” Mason said. “Spend your time wisely.”
Mason was one of several encouraging voices to address the approximately 3,800 first-year and transfer students at SU and about 320 first-year students from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry at this year’s Chancellor’s Convocation for New Students.
Chancellor and President Nancy Cantor, Vice Chancellor and Provost Eric Spina and SUNY ESF Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Bruce C. Bongarten welcomed students and their families as part of the ceremony, which included a procession of academic deans, faculty and members of the administration, accompanied by the Syracuse University Marching Band.
Cantor recognized this newest class as full of power and possibilities. “You have the chance to bring light precisely because, as compared to us, you aren’t quite as stuck in your ways, not as polarized perhaps in your opinions, more used to a fluid 24×7 cyber information flow, and more willing to be presumptuous enough to think that you can craft a better status quo than the one you inherited,” Cantor said.
Good-naturedly acknowledging the opportunity to address the students in his role as chief academic officer, Vice Chancellor and Provost Eric Spina gave the new students their first assignment: find a faculty mentor who shares their academic or community-related interest. “Get to know that person. Let them get to know you,” Spina said. “These are relationships that SU and ESF highly value and make all the difference in your education and also to your future.”
As someone who sat in the seat of these students only a few years before, Mason advised them to build a great support team of friends, professors and staff, and put their passions over just building a resume. “At SU, you can’t wait for things to happen; you have to make things happen,” said Mason, a senior policy analyst of government affairs and public policy at Google.
Rachel Borden, whose daughter, Raelle Alfaro, is a first-year student in the College of Arts and Sciences, was impressed by Mason’s words and his advice. Since they are from the San Francisco Bay area, attending college on the opposite coast is a big step, but one that Borden is proud of her daughter for making. “The adjustment for both of us is difficult,” Borden said, but she encourages her daughter to find people she can click with and stay busy and enjoy her classes. Raelle is looking forward to finding out about clubs and meeting people in her classes.
A first-year student in the Whitman School of Management, Anthony Greco says the best part of his experience so far has been meeting new people. “Everyone has their door open and is saying ‘hello,’” he said. Once classes start, he’s looking forward to getting to know the professors and working with other students in class.
His parents, Josephine and Rocco Greco, appreciate the welcome that they’ve received with their son—which they also experienced with their daughter, Alyssa, who is a senior at SU. “Everyone always makes you feel at home,” Josephine said.
The couple from Lagrangeville, N.Y., is proud of the work that their son has accomplished to get to this point in his education. “He is basically taking with him everything we’ve told him since he’s been a child. Now, he’s just taking it to a different level,” Rocco said.