Thousands of new UC Berkeley students filed into Haas Pavilion for new student convocation on Tuesday, part of a weeklong orientation for students to meet campus leaders, future friends and colleagues.
“We are thrilled to have you here with your energy, your ambition, your intelligence, your imagination,” said Chancellor Carol Christ to the 9,500 freshmen and transfer students gathered for their official campus welcome ceremony. “We are excited you chose Berkeley, and we know you will succeed here.” [Learn more about UC Berkeley’s 2017/2018 incoming students.]
Student talent abounded. Freshman Shefali Das opened the event, belting out the national anthem for the cheering crowd. Luis Maurer, a second-year student, sang “You’ll Be Back” from the Hamilton soundtrack, which every incoming student listened to over the summer as part of Berkeley’s On the Same Page program. The California Golden Overtones — an a cappella group on campus — invited students to join in as they performed “Hail to California.”
“It’s very inspiring meeting new students — hearing about all the excellent things they’ve done in the first chapters of their lives,” says freshman Michael Sigua, who plans on majoring in molecular and cell biology, with the goal of becoming an oncologist.
Sigua, whose family is from the Philippines, says he plans on getting involved with the student group Pilipino Association for Health Careers — a big reason he came to Berkeley — which sends interns with doctors to treat patients in developing nations.
Christ encouraged students to explore the campus, and to become part of groups that speak to their interests. “Berkeley is like a city,” she said. “Find your neighborhoods — find an intellectual neighborhood, find an extracurricular neighborhood. Knock on doors. People are here to help. Ask questions.”
Viana Marie Roland, who transferred to Berkeley from De Anza College, is pursuing a double major in political science and society and environment, and a minor in peace and conflict studies. Roland grew up in a small California farming town with her family, some of whom were undocumented. She says seeing her family and other immigrants working in strawberry fields laden with harmful pesticides has inspired her to work in environmental justice.
“People don’t generally connect environmental justice and farmworkers because it’s an occupation,” she says. “But those people who are working in the fields and are around it are exposed to an insane level of toxic chemicals — in their food, water, clothing. I’ve seen firsthand the impacts of that.”
Dean of Students Joseph Greenwell concluded the convocation, encouraging students to engage with people with all different viewpoints to develop a deep understanding of what makes Berkeley the top university in the world.
“There is something for everyone, here at UC Berkeley,” he said.
Learn more about 2017 Golden Bear Orientation.