Students gather for Convocation despite the weather


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Bells announced the beginning of Convocation for roughly 4,500 first-year students Sunday, and it seemed thunder marked its ending.

Even as rain threatened the annual ceremony on the Pentacrest lawn, professors and students welcomed the new school year.

“The beginning of an academic year always brings us together as a united university — that’s one of the reasons I love this university so much,” UI President Sally Mason said.

Freshmen huddled under trees and hoodies, reluctant to get wet but most refusing to leave.

For freshman Whitney Repole, she said she hoped the ceremony would bring a renewed excitement for the new school year. The weather, however, was not what she had hoped for.

“I think it sucks getting wet,” she said.

In Mason’s address to the students, she stressed the new students are a part of a large community.
“We are all part of the Hawkeye family,” she said.

Taylor Ellis-Sayegh, the student Convocation speaker, described the Class of 2016 as full of dreamers.

“We all have dreams,” she said. “And more importantly, we all made the decision that we want to be Hawkeyes. And whether we knew it or not, we chose each other to start this journey with. We will challenge each other to stay true to our dreams, we will dare each other to be doers, and to make the University of Iowa — the greatest university in the world — even better.”

Michael Barron, the director of UI Admissions, said he hopes the Class of 2016 took two main ideas away from convocation.

“We take education seriously here at the UI, and we care about their [students’] success,” he said.
Barron said 4,500 freshman students is an estimate, and officials will not know an official total until today. Officials offered admission to roughly the same number of in-state students this year as they did last year, but more Iowans enrolled.

Tom Rocklin, the UI vice president for Student Life, said if students experience apprehension about the upcoming year, they need to know they belong at the UI.

“We admitted you here because we know you can succeed, and we are here to help you succeed,” he said, stressing the importance of the Iowa Challenge — to Excel, Stretch, Engage, Choose, and Serve.

Ellis-Sayegh said the Class of 2016 should look forward to the journeys ahead.

“We are eager to set out on this journey, with our heads held high, knowing that we have each other to depend on,” she said.

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