Members of the Florida State University Class of 2023 — the largest class of first-year students in university history — were introduced to university traditions during New Student Convocation Sunday, Aug. 25, at the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center.
President John Thrasher presided over the ceremony, which featured keynote speaker Pamela Perrewé, the Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor and Haywood and Betty Taylor Eminent Scholar of Business Administration at FSU.
Perrewé, who has worked exclusively at FSU since completing her doctoral studies years ago, assured the crowd that her message to them was coming straight from the heart.
“You’ve been admitted to one of the best universities in the world, and to that I say well done and congrats,” Perrewé said. “As you begin your education, you’ll likely ask yourself, which path do I take? Earning a degree from FSU will help you get on the right path and open a lot of doors for you. Stay prepared, be ready and try to feel joy while you’re going through the process.”
The annual convocation ceremony officially welcomes first-year students into the university community and introduces them to the university’s values and traditions on the eve of the first day of the fall semester.
Many of Florida State’s 6,900 incoming first-year students attended the hour-long ceremony, joined by friends and family. Among them was freshman Malcolm Randolph, who already had some credits under his belt from the summer term.
“I’m really excited to jump into things,” Randolph said. “I had the opportunity to experience FSU during the summer, so I already have an idea of all the different opportunities and events that the school has to offer. I’m excited to do it again for the fall and come back even stronger and get even better results than I did in the summer.”
FSU’s motto of “Vires, Artes, Mores,” which translates to “strength, skill and character,” is highlighted during the Torch Ceremony, where three upperclassmen pass torches to a trio of incoming students, symbolically passing the university’s ideals from one class to the next. Karen Laughlin, dean of Undergraduate Studies, called upon students to commit to live by the values embodied in the torches on the university seal.
Vice President for Student Affairs Amy Hecht and Student Government President Evan Steinberg shared their Top 20 list of things to do at FSU with the new class. The list encouraged students to take advantage of global opportunities and community service and to attend athletic events, the President’s Ice Cream Social, Market Wednesdays and Homecoming events.
Maya Herran, a sophomore from Jupiter, Florida, served as a 2019 Orientation leader to aid freshmen as they transition into campus life. She attended Convocation last year and recalled how important she felt to the university in that moment.
“Something that really mattered to me was that I was going to a university where I wasn’t only welcomed, but I was celebrated,” Herran said. “I think that Convocation really sets the tone for a student’s transition and shows that they’re welcome and it’s really a family.”
Kevin Fenton, professor of music education and director of undergraduate choral studies within FSU’s College of Music, introduced the new class to the “Hymn for the Garnet and Gold.” Conner Fabrega, an incoming freshman and Tallahassee native, led his classmates in singing the piece.
Freshman Jamie Sobalvarro said she’s excited to attend her first class as a Seminole when the fall semester starts Monday, Aug. 26.
“Being in the room where we’re going to graduate is such a powerful thing,” Sobalvarro said. “The ceremony gets you inspired to do better and achieve great things, especially at a university like this. I took so many different campus tours, and the moment that I walked onto FSU, my soul felt it. I knew that this was where I was going to be, and here I am.”
Thrasher closed the ceremony by reminding students that the FSU community is first and foremost a family.
“I want you to know that when we talk about family we really mean it,” Thrasher said. “We may not be connected by blood, but we are connected by our love for this university. We’re excited about the journey you’re embarking on, and we’re here to support you along the way.”
The Marching Chiefs sent off the newest members of the Florida State family to the President’s Welcome by playing their iconic renditions of the “War Chant” and “FSU Fight Song.”
Following the ceremony, students joined Thrasher and college deans for the President’s Welcome at the Civic Center exhibition hall, which featured free food and entertainment. Students relished the opportunity to pose for photos with President Thrasher, and Randolph didn’t miss his opportunity.
“He was really welcoming,” Randolph said. “It felt personal and genuine and very approachable. The fact that he’s at this event and taking time to take pictures with students, one-on-one, getting to know them, it really shows that FSU is a family-oriented community.”