Saint Louis University

The Saint Louis University community gathered in Chaifetz Arena Aug. 24 to welcome the Class of 2016, one of the biggest and brightest classes in history.

During SLU's annual New Student Convocation, University President Lawrence Biondi, S.J., spoke before a crowd of more than 3,100 people, but focused his remarks to the incoming students.

"Today's Convocation ceremony is a milestone for each of you," he said. "It is an exciting, next step as you embark on your college careers."

As the new students began their journey, Biondi offered what he called his "Top 10 Tips for Becoming a Successful Billiken."

The advice ran the gamut from encouraging new students to embrace SLU's diversity, to having a sense of humor about life, to making wise choices, such as avoiding binge drinking and other dangerous behaviors.

"I also encourage you to pray according to your faith traditions; to respect others' beliefs; and to live your own values, principles, and ethics as well as by the Golden Rule," Biondi noted when delivering his No. 1 piece of advice: "Have Faith."

Ryan Hughes, a senior majoring in Civil Engineering at Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology, offered his own advice to his new classmates.

Hughes said that "opportunity" would be the one word he would use to describe the SLU experience. And to take advantage of all of the opportunities the University offers, he told the newest Billikens that they need to "show up" — advice originally from his father.

"Once you find the opportunities and show up, you discover how you can make a difference in the world," Hughes said.

Manoj Patankar, Ph.D., vice president for academic affairs, noted that there was a very good reason so many administrators, faculty, staff and returning students had gathered in Chaifetz Arena Friday.

"Today, we come together to celebrate the promise of a new academic year and the promise you hold for the future," Patankar said.

Jay Goff, vice president for enrollment and retention management, shared some interesting facts about SLU's newest Billikens, who, among other things, boast a 3.75 median high school GPA, and hail from 42 states and 53 countries. (Get more facts about the Class of 2016.)

"Your academic achievement, your community service, and your leadership put you among the most outstanding classes we have ever welcomed," Goff told the new students before officially introducing the Class of 2016 to the University.

Following the formal ceremony, the new students and their family members were invited to the arena floor to interact with Biondi, the vice presidents, deans and faculty.

Watch the entire 2012 New Student Convocation and Family Welcome streaming on SLU's YouTube Channel.