‘An intellectual adventure unlike anything you have known before’

Thousands of newly minted students filled the Greek Theatre Monday for UC Berkeley’s 2015 convocation, a chance to meet campus leaders, future friends and colleagues and to gear up for what Chancellor Nicholas Dirks called “an intellectual adventure unlike anything you have known before.”

UC Berkeley video by Roxanne Makasdjian and Stephen McNally

The dean of students, Joseph Greenwell, opened the proceedings, welcoming the students to their first official day at UC Berkeley.

“What are we?” he asked, answering: “The best public school in the world!”

Greenwell noted the importance of embracing challenges, self-empowerment and working together as a community. “Never pass a fellow community member in distress,” he said. “Always stop to ask how you can help.”

Pushing boundaries and taking chances were strong themes of the day. Francine Masiello, a Spanish professor, told students she’s always surprised at their power of concentration and urged them to seize the many opportunities available to them as students at Berkeley. “Study hard, yes,” she said. But also, take the time to “discover who you are and invest in a life of intellect.”

Lavanya Jawaharlal, executive vice president of the ASUC, doled out advice she says she wished she had gotten as a freshman, encouraging students to get involved in the campus’s more than 1,000 student organizations, explore the city and its surroundings, find a study group and take advantage of the five free counseling sessions at the Tang Center when times get tough.

“You have made, I think, an enlightened choice,” Chancellor Dirks told the crowd. “You are filled with excitement, potential and promise. Please, take your time here and use it well.”

To find out more about welcome activities at Berkeley, go to the Getting Your Bearings website.