Convocation brought several thousand of UC Berkeley’s newest students together at Haas Pavilion Monday to be energized by dance and musical performances and encouraged by campus leaders to explore the campus and community with curiosity and courage.
“The road to discovery is full of failed attempts,” Chancellor Carol Christ told the students, a mix of first-years and transfers. “Think of yourself not as a student merely completing assignments to your professor’s specification, but as an adventurer, a discoverer primed to try new things, adopt new approaches.”
The 8,800 new students are a diverse group who hail from 50 California counties, all 50 U.S. states and 70 countries. They range in age from 15 to 63. Eighty-one percent of the new freshmen graduated from public high schools, and 93 percent of the new transfer students are arriving from California community colleges. Nearly one out of every five new students is the first person in their family to go to college.
“When I began my career here, now decades ago, it was you — the students of this extraordinary university — who made me fall in love with this campus,” said Christ. “Each of you has a different story about how you came to this place, at this moment in time; your lives and experiences add to Berkeley’s rich mosaic.”
Adding to the official “welcome to Berkeley” festivities, beats from Cal Taiko thundered through the pavilion, and tunes from the student a cappella group Noteworthy and the mariachi band Luz de Oro rang out. Dance routines by the Bearettes and the Cal Hawaii Club also wowed the crowd.
After a sing-a-long of “Hail California” led by the Golden Overtones, excited students spilled out onto Spieker Plaza to the sounds of the Cal Band.
“Berkeley has been my dream school forever,” said Zachary Neff, a freshman from Sacramento on the Cal rugby team. “I know that it’s a competitive place and that it’s really academically challenging, but ultimately I chose to be here because I want to push myself.”
For Batrica Besada, a transfer student originally from Dubai, clubs and social engagement were among the features of campus life she was most excited about.
“I’ve signed up for a film fraternity and [the student film organization] Cinebears,” said Besada. “And I’ve already signed up for sailing club.”