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Matriculation: Welcoming the Class of 2014

Speakers urge freshmen to grasp opportunity


The Class of 2014 was welcomed into the BU community yesterday. Photo by Kalman Zabarsky

Carpe BU.

That message of seizing opportunity dominated yesterday’s Matriculation ceremony.

Sultry temperatures outside were no match for the exuberance inside Agganis Arena as freshmen began gathering for the event. Even before the ceremony started, schools competed to outshout each other by belting out their schools’ initials. The massive ceiling screens inside the arena captured images of students parading in and panned the eager faces of those already inside, generating cheers.

“More excited than worried” was how Robert Hiza (CAS’14) of Nottingham, N.H., described starting college. “It’s a little overwhelming,” he added.

Newfound friends Sam Forrest (CAS14) (left) and Lisa Peng (CAS14) take a photo of themselves. Photo by Kalman Zabarsky

President Robert A. Brown welcomed the 4,300 members of the Class of 2014 with advice on how to make the most of their college careers: study the past and the philosophies that shaped our world; learn to think logically so as to weigh conflicting arguments; become scientifically literate; learn quantitative reasoning, the application of math skills to everyday matters; and learn how to write clearly.

Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore (right) introduces BU President Robert A. Brown. Photo by Melody Komyerov

“Commit yourselves to the University and take full advantage of all that it has to offer,” Brown said, insisting that media rankings are only one measure of a school. “You will participate in the rankings through your performance; your graduation rate is a measure in U.S. News & World Report, as is your dedication to the University after graduation.”

Student Union President Arthur Emma (CAS’11) gave a similar exhortation in the undergraduate allocution. He recalled how as a freshman he had forced himself to be more extroverted at BU, aggressively meeting people, making the crew team, and joining student government.

Such small, everyday choices “will determine your experiences at BU,” he said. “If I hadn’t introduced myself to all those random people, I would have a lot less friends. Or if I hadn’t wandered over to crew tryouts one lazy afternoon, I would not have accumulated some of my favorite memories. And if I hadn’t climbed up those stairs to go to that Student Union meeting that cold fall evening, I would not be speaking in front of you today.

“I agree with Mark Twain, who said, ‘Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the things you did. So throw off those bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor.… Explore. Dream.’”

Faculty speaker Lydia Diamond (GRS’09), a College of Fine Arts assistant professor of playwriting and theater arts, sought to calm any newcomer jitters. BU “can seem like a big place,” she said. “But it will become smaller. You will find your place.

“And we, your faculty, we see you. We see you. We see you.”

Yesterday’s fall kickoff ritual was one of only two occasions when the Class of 2014 gathers together; the next will be their graduation. This year’s event broke with the past: parents were invited to attend for the first time. Brown noted the occasion by asking them to stand and be applauded by their children.

Allegra Barnes (CAS’14) (from left), Tiffany Wisdom (CAS’14), and Noemi Wyss (CAS’14) cheer as College of Arts & Sciences freshmen are inducted. Photo by Melody Komyerov

Limited space at the Track and Tennis Center, where the last several Matriculations have been held, prevented a larger crowd in the past. But “this year, Agganis Arena was available for the ceremony and provided seating for both the entering freshmen and the anticipated family members,” says Michael Ciarlante (COM’79), associate director of Events and Conferences.

Rich Barlow can be reached at barlowr@bu.edu.

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