Center for Housing Equity and Opportunity in Eastern Connecticut launches with inaugural gathering at Conn
In a video message welcoming the newest camels to Conn, Student Government Association Vice President Kayla Glemaud ’21 recalled being both nervous and excited on her own move-in day as a first-year student three years ago.
“I wondered what my college experience would be like, what friends I would make, what my major would be and how I would navigate this new chapter in my life,” she said, before sharing how she has built meaningful relationships with people across campus, including those she has met while working as a barista in one of the campus coffee shops.
“The close-knit community Conn fosters is unique. It is the reason for my academic success, my personal growth and for the long-lasting friendships that have made me the person I am today.”
That community will be particularly important for the new students, who are the first group to begin their collegiate careers during a global pandemic in more than 100 years.
“Whether you are on campus, off campus or studying remotely, this is going to be a period of change and growth for all of us,” Glemaud said. “Just as my first year at Conn was filled with new change and experiences, this semester will be like none other. But I’m happy to be back home at Conn and to embrace our new normal.”
Admitted from the largest applicant pool in the College’s history, the 440 members of the Class of 2024 and 20 transfer students are an impressive group, with 77 percent graduating in the top 20 percent of their high school classes. They come from 26 states and 15 countries, including Canada, Cayman Islands, China, Georgia, Japan, Jordan, Lebanon, New Zealand, Pakistan, Peru, Sweden, The Bahamas, Turkey, United Kingdom and Vietnam. Sixty-nine members of the incoming class are the first in their families to go to college, while 23 are at least the second members of their families to attend Conn.
The newest class is also among the most diverse in the College’s history; 26 percent are domestic students of color and 5 percent are international students.
President Katherine Bergeron told the new students that they are beginning their collegiate careers not only during a pandemic, but also at a time of great economic uncertainty and in the midst of urgent calls for racial justice.
“The historians will be writing about this moment, so here is my advice to you: Make your story all that it can be,” she said.
Bergeron urged the students to do their part to protect the health of Conn’s community; to exercise their democratic rights; and, most importantly, to practice the art of dialogue. That advice speaks to the citizenship central to the College’s mission: To educate students to put the liberal arts into action as citizens in a global society.
“I’m asking you … to lean into this moment, and into this new opportunity that your education at Conn offers: to learn to become better citizens,” she said. “If you reach for the citizenship that lies at the heart of our mission, you will make history. I invite all of you to begin your journey today by embracing that singular challenge.”
During his remarks, Dean of the College Jefferson Singer told the new students that Connections, the College’s reinvention of the liberal arts, cultivates understanding and empathy in this important cultural moment when the capacity to see beyond oneself is essential.
“There’s never been a more important moment for the liberal arts. The world needs graduates who have clarity of mind, reserves of empathy and capacity for integrative problem solving,” he said.
“As you embrace your education at Conn, you will learn to become a discoverer of patterns, a skilled detective who uncovers necessary connections that help you to understand, and ultimately, change the world.”
Singer added that “the great Class of 2024, and our impressive group of transfer students, have already exhibited their ‘can do’ spirit in these challenging times.”
Prior to their arrival, the students were asked to quarantine for 14 days and be tested for COVID-19 at home. Once they arrived on campus, the new students were tested and participated in a virtual New Student Orientation while they quarantined in their rooms.
The virtual Orientation program included welcomes from various deans and student adviser coordinators, as well as virtual meetings with individual student advisers, floor and house meetings, and social events. The program concluded with the virtual welcome event featuring Glemaud, Bergeron and Singer, which ended with the traditional unveiling of the class banner.
Classes begin virtually on Sept. 1, with in-person classes beginning Friday, Sept. 11.
For more Orientation and Fall 2020 coverage, follow #ConnColl on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.