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New SLU-Madrid Students Welcomed at the Convocation

by Isaiah Voss


The newest Billikeños and their families gathered in nearby Pablo VI Auditorium for the traditional welcome to Saint Louis University's academic community.

On August 31, SLU-Madrid officially welcomed nearly 400 new students at the Convocation of the Class of 2026. Among the new students starting their university careers at SLU-Madrid were 140 students in Northeastern University's program and 47 University of Delaware World Scholars.

Convocation of the Class of 2026 at Pablo VI Auditorium. Students, most wearing blue T-shirts, face the stage with a video of President Fred Pestello speaking.

Convocation of the Class of 2026 at Pablo VI Auditorium. Photo by Ángel García.


The ceremony featured representatives of the University community offering insights and advice to new students, beginning with a virtual greeting from Saint Louis University President, Fred Pestello. "SLU is a global, Jesuit research University with a remarkable history and an exciting future," said Dr. Pestello. "Whether we’re in St. Louis or Madrid, we are one SLU." 

Ryan McHenry, '11, spoke on behalf of the SLU-Madrid's Alumni Association. He encouraged students to think about the future they envision for themselves. Director of Admissions, Heidi Buffington, offered an additional perspective, sharing demographic details about SLU-Madrid's Class of 2026. 

Magnolia Cooper, Student Government Association (SGA) Vice President, represented the students, reflecting back on her own first days at university. Dr. Carolina Aznar, President of the SLU-Madrid Faculty Senate, served as the voice of the faculty, inviting students to the intellectual challenge ahead of them. She also advised those who are not already Spanish speakers to learn Spanish.

Dr. Paul Vita, SLU-Madrid’s Director and Academic Dean, closed the ceremony. "SLU-Madrid's structures," he said, "are in place to help you learn, to develop as a person with and for others, to prepare you to change the world and make it a better place. Get ready to be transformed and challenged!"

Check out this video recap