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SLU-Madrid Officially Welcomes New Billikens at Convocation

by Katherine Gortz on 09/04/2019

SLU-Madrid officially welcomed its 206 newest members the University community — the Class of 2023, new transfer students, the fourth class of University of Delaware World Scholars and the second class of first-year IGNITE engineering students — at the annual Convocation and Family Welcome.

Convocation 2019
Campus Director and Academic Dean Dr. Paul Vita offered words of advice to the 206 new Madrid Billikens: "Make friends, make good decisions, volunteer, get an internship, get two. But also permit yourself to meet the intellectual and spiritual challenges that you will encounter taking and preparing for your classes.”

Assistant Dean Jaime Ortiz kicked off the ceremony with a warm welcome and offered special recognition to the 49 University of Delaware World Scholars who are beginning their college education with a semester abroad at SLU-Madrid. Ortiz then invited Fr. James O’Leary to the stage to lead the invocation in which he explained the etymology of the word "convocation" and called upon students to be “men and women for others.” 

Ortiz went on to thank the Campus Ambassadors and SLU-Madrid staff before SLU President Dr. Fred Pestello offered a personalized video greeting. As a representative of the SLU-Madrid Alumni Association, Katherine Espinosa ‘13 urged students to experience SLU-Madrid’s diversity by opening their minds, listening and exchanging ideas. Beyond campus, Madrid is home to 230,000 college students, offering a youthful and international environment with abounding opportunity for personal growth and reflection.  

Director of Admissions Heidi Buffington welcomed students on behalf of the admissions team and posed the question to students: What does home mean to you? According to application essays from the incoming class: “It is people. It is experience. It is knowledge,” or, “Home is everywhere. Home is everything you make of it.” Buffington described the demographics of the largest incoming class in over ten years, with a total of 120 first-year students and 29 transfer students coming from as far away as Manila, Philippines and Hong Kong. The Class of 2023 and new transfer students represent 33 countries and 28 U.S. states.

Student Government Association (SGA) President Sierra Zima introduced herself with personal anecdotes about positive change during her college experience. One year after joining the SLU-Madrid community as a reserved transfer student, Zima was elected SGA president. Zima was followed by history professor Dr. Kevin Ingram, who offered a humorous speech about leaving one’s comfort zone.

Madrid Campus Director and Academic Dean Dr. Paul Vita brought the ceremony to a close by wishing students a successful academic year while imploring them to solve “real world” challenges in and out of an academic setting. He affirmed: “What contributes most to success in life is what you learn outside the classroom.”