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President Schapiro: Make your ‘bucket list’

At the annual Convocation, encouragement to take risks, try new things and embrace diverse perspectives

president's convocation
New students concluded Wildcat Welcome this week. Photo by K'Von Jackson

During his annual Convocation address to new students, Northwestern President Morton Schapiro this week encouraged the University’s newest cohort to make a “bucket list” now and not wait to start making memories. He reminded members of the Class of 2025 that it will be the memories they make with friends that will continue to bring them back to campus for the rest of their lives.

Related: Introducing the Class of 2025

Christopher Watson, dean of undergraduate enrollment and associate vice president for student outreach, shared a few “fun facts” about the class: They represent 49 states, 60 countries and 94 citizenships, and they speak more than 60 different languages.

“Don’t leave here with a laundry list of things you wish you did”

“My favorite stat of all is that over 300 of you will be the first in your families to graduate from college,” Watson said, which was met with enthusiastic applause at the annual event on the even of the first day of classes. He added this was also a record for an entering class at Northwestern. “Together as a new class, you make Northwestern a more interesting and spirited campus.” 

Said President Schapiro: “This is obviously a group who could’ve gotten into anywhere, and you chose to come here. We take the faith you’ve shown in us very, very seriously.”

Christian Wade ’22, president of the Associated Student Government, encouraged students to stick with their passions and engage with the things that truly make them happy.

“Your time here will pass by in an instant, and college will not last forever,” Wade said. “So, don’t leave here with a laundry list of things you wish you did. Take advantage of the space while it’s yours, and chart the path that’s best for you.” 

Julie Payne-Kirchmeier, vice president for Student Affairs, reminded students that there will be moments when they’re faced with difficult choices and to take advantage of the support systems the University has to offer. 

“You have a room full of over 2,000 teammates sitting in this room with you right now,” Payne-Kirchmeier said. “You are part of a community that includes you, our vast alumni network, the faculty and staff and other students that are here. Never forget these people are here to help you, support you and lift you up.”

“Your inner compass has led you to Northwestern”

Provost Kathleen Hagerty told students they are going to learn from some of the world’s leading scholars spanning fields of art, science, education, business and engineering.

“As everyone has said, you did not get here by chance,” Hagerty said. “You have excelled in the classroom, clearing incredibly high academic standards to be here today.”

She encouraged the students to take risks, try new things and embrace diverse perspectives.

“Your inner compass has led you to Northwestern,” Hagerty added. “This compass got you here, and as you work your way through the decision tree, which is your life, you should continue to listen to it and use it to find what you love to do.”

“You should celebrate yourself”

President Schapiro asked students to take care of themselves first, particularly in light of the challenges and disruptions that COVID-19 presented. 

“Take advantage of all of the resources, and don’t be hard on yourself — especially with all that you’ve gone through with COVID-19 over the last year and a half,” President Schapiro said. “You should celebrate yourself. Look in the mirror, and feel good about yourself and know that it’s going to work out.”

Concluding his remarks, Schapiro made reference to his time as University president winding down. 

“It’s a little sad for me…but I’m looking forward to the year ahead. To be with all of you is an honor. Go ’Cats!”

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