New Billikens Start Their Next Chapter at Fall Convocation

08/24/2017

Addressing Saint Louis University’s Class of 2021, senior Molly Layman said told the freshman Billikens, “your story is waiting.”

The Class of 2021 is the second-largest in SLU history.The Class of 2021 is the second-largest in SLU history.

Speaking the second-largest class in SLU history, Layman joined University President Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D., Provost Nancy Brickhouse, Ph.D., Daniel Carter, president of the Student Government Association, and the entire SLU community in welcoming its newest members at 2017’s New Student Convocation on Aug. 24 at the Chaifetz Arena.

“Stories are the way we give justice and life to the universe of thoughts, revelations and experiences,” Layman told the class, their parents and Chaifetz crowd, “It is through telling the story of Saint Louis University today that I hope to make you more confident in continuing to write your own.”

Pestello laid out the history of sacrifice and sustained immersion in faith and community that had brought not only the new Billikens and families to SLU, but also the University to the point of celebrating 200 years in 2018.

“You join us as begin our third century,” Pestello said. He highlighted SLU’s Jesuit, urban, international, Catholic and compassionate history as the oldest institution in the St. Louis region. “We’re committed to this city and have ben for 200 years.”

That history, he continued, compelled the new class, with its many talents and unique place in SLU’s story, to push themselves even further than they had previously dreamed.

“Each and every one of you have everything it takes to succeed here,” Pestello said. “There are things you can immerse yourself in here to help expand your avocation to help your fellow men and women.”

Stories are the way we give justice and life to the universe of thoughts, revelations and experiences. It is through telling the story of Saint Louis University today that I hope to make you more confident in continuing to write your own."

Molly Layman, student speaker, New Student Convocation 2017

SLU’s newest class comes from 44 states and nearly 80 nations from Argentina to Vietnam. The Class of 2021 has an average grade point average (GPA) of over 3.9 and their ACT and SAT entrance scores are the highest of any in SLU history. The class includes over 300 transfer students and 28 percent of the class is on track to be the first member of a family to complete a university degree. Over 1,000 of the class’s members received named scholarships.

“Your academic achievements, your community service and your leadership put you among the most outstanding classes we have ever welcomed,” Jay Goff, vice president for enrollment and retention management, told the crowd. “This is truly fitting for our bicentennial year celebration.”

While the new SLU class brings stellar resumes with them along with iPads and dorm mini-fridges, Layman urged them not to forget that they were now part of a community that makes its home on “the friendliest street in America” and to make the most of the relationships they will form across their new campus.

“You are here because you are both intelligent and compassionate; disciplined and restless,” Layman said. “I am proud to say you have a home here.  There is a sense of passion, and a willingness to sprint into the unknown that students possess, and the things that people here actively do to change the world around them will send chills down your spine.”

“This is who we are. We are the doers. The seekers. And we are the authors,” she concluded. “Class of 2021, your story is waiting.”

With that in mind, Pestello reminded the students not to isolate themselves and to never forget to seek out help from those around them.

“You will be stretched and challenged in ways you cannot even imagine here,” he said. “That is the definition of a university.”

Reminding students that hard work is required to meet the rigor of a Jesuit education, Pestello added, as a second piece of advice, “Hard work is necessary but it’s probably not going to be sufficient.”

“You have to reach out,” he said. “There are times you need others to help you through. This is a loving community, a generous community. Be part of it. If you do that fully, you will thrive.”

This is a loving community, a generous community. Be part of it. If you do that fully, you will thrive."

Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D., University president

The convocation kicked off with an acapella performance and the traditional procession of the University’s Mace and faculty. The new Billikens followed to fill the arena and Stephanie Tennill, visiting assistant professor of music, sang the national anthem.

Christopher Collins, S.J., special assistant to the president for mission and identity, led the crowd in prayer and Brickhouse spoke to praise the faculty and staff who support and guide students daily.

The convocation concluded as the new Billikens joined faculty and Pestello on the floor of the arena and for more Fall Welcome events including a jazz reception and the annual square dance on top of the Olive Compton garage.

A member of the Oriflamme high-fives with the Billiken at new student move in.A member of the Oriflamme high-fives with the Billiken at new student move in.

Fall Welcome 2017 continues through the weekend and next week. It will culminate on Aug. 31 with the Mass of the Holy Spirit, a tradition at Jesuit colleges and universities dating to the mid-1500s and first Jesuit school.


Saint Louis University is a world-class Catholic, Jesuit institution educating nearly 13,000 students on two dynamic, urban campuses - in St. Louis, Missouri, and Madrid, Spain. Founded in 1818, the University will soon celebrate its bicentennial.
 
With a legacy of innovative academics and research, compassionate health care and faithful service, Saint Louis University attracts a diverse community of scholars who push intellectual boundaries in pursuit of creative, meaningful ways to impact the world, striving to serve a higher purpose and seek a greater good.