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Pitt welcomes largest incoming class at convocation ceremony

By Jessie Wallace / For The Pitt News

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Chancellor Patrick Gallagher kicked off a 200-year-old commencement ceremony with a selfie.

During the 2015 New Student Convocation, which began at 3 p.m. on Wednesday in the Petersen Events Center, Gallagher snapped a selfie that included the more than 6,000 students, parents and faculty present in the arena.

Preceding the picture, an array of speakers, including Chief University Marshal Frank D. Wilson, Senior Vice Chancellor Patricia Beeson and Student Government Board President Nasreen Harun, spoke about the importance of Pitt tradition and involvement both inside and outside the classroom.

Vice Provost and Dean of Students Kenyon Bonner began by welcoming new students with words of advice for their first year as members of the Pitt community.

“If you, as freshmen, commit yourselves to [being] fully engaged in our community, if you see challenges as learning experiences, if you remember to believe in yourself, you will be successful at the University of Pittsburgh,” Bonner said.

Gallagher said the 2015 freshman class is one of the largest in Pitt’s history, chosen from more than 30,000 applications. Of the 4,825 new undergraduate students attending Pitt this year, 4,090 are freshmen and 735 are transfer students.

Not only is this incoming class the largest, Gallagher said, but it also boasts some of the most impressive academic scores. The average SAT score of the incoming class is 1298.

“You are one of the best and very brightest classes to come to the University of Pittsburgh,” Gallagher said.

Gallagher gave a warm introduction to Huran, who led the Pitt Promise before offering the microphone to students Ian Snyder, Megan Schlegelmilch and Marcus Robinson for the Alma Mater.

The Blue and Gold Society taught the students Pitt football fan traditions including Sweet Caroline, the touchdown dance and the first-down dance, while vibrant lasers flashed across the blue and gold shirts of the freshmen in the stands.

Freshman Liam Bonner said although the lasers and fanfare were his favorite part of the afternoon, he’s most excited to start classes on Monday.

“Getting to study things I actually want to study — things that actually interest me is what I’m looking forward to most about Pitt,” Bonner, an accounting major, said.

Pitt cheerleaders and the Panther marching band closed out the ceremony, rallying students for the upcoming pep rally and first home football game against Youngstown State next Saturday.

Blue and Gold Society members and Arrival Survival staff wrapped their arms around each other while new students sang Sweet Caroline together for the first time.

“I really loved learning Sweet Caroline, “ freshman Christina Cafro, a microbiology major from the Poconos, said. “I’m [looking forward] to all of the experiences I’m going to have this year.”

As the new students flooded the field for the Chancellor’s picnic, a sentiment from Gallagher’s opening speech was apparent.

“We are all Pitt Panthers, linked together in blue and gold,” Gallagher said.

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The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper
Pitt welcomes largest incoming class at convocation ceremony