Welcome Class of 2021

September 01 2017
Category: Campus Life

“I am very excited because today is all about my son. Since his junior year he knew he wanted to come here,” said Elmira proud parent, Louise Joseph.

Today, her son Rafael Joseph ’21 began his college journey as a member of the Unsurpassed Class of 2021 after traveling to Elmira yesterday from Boston. This morning, Rafael and his classmates moved into the residence halls with the help of some dedicated Orientation Leaders and Resident Advisors.

“This is such a special day on campus, and one you will always remember,” said resident advisor, Trevor Stone ’18. “I am excited to be here, to help the new students make the transition to college life, but also to create a friendly environment that extends beyond orientation weekend.”

With smiles, cheers and more than 10,000 purple and gold balloons dotting campus, current students certainly know how to create a fun and welcoming community.

For freshman Rafael, being here means the excitement of moving in and meeting new friends, as well as special traditions, like the Welcome Ceremony. 

The traditional President’s Welcome Ceremony, held on Cowles Lawn, was opened by dean of student life, Brandon Dawson. After sharing words of wisdom and encouragement for students and parents, Dawson then introduced Dr. Charles Lindsay, fifteenth president of Elmira College.

“Today marks Elmira College’s 163rd year as an institution of higher learning,” said Lindsay. “We begin the year with a talented and diverse student body from 35 states and 20 countries. The diversity of backgrounds and perspectives represented on campus is a hallmark of the Elmira College experience and a source of great strength.”

Lindsay continued with words of advice and assurance for the new students and their parents.

“Your undergraduate experience offers tremendous potential because it provides a focused opportunity for intellectual, personal, and social growth. This is not just a time for preparing to make a living; it is a time for considering how to live; a time for redefining your understanding of the world, for assessing your place in that world, and for determining what responsibility you have for improving that world.”

Lindsay concluded his remarks by telling students, “We are delighted that you are here and have chosen to make Elmira College a part of your journey.  We trust that you will grow to love this college as we do – with passion and purpose, and with the knowledge that it can be only as strong as we collectively are, only as thoughtful and wise, only as compassionate and caring. This academic community is forged through the choices and contributions that each of us makes, minute-by-minute, year-by-year, decade-by-decade. It is ours to share and shape, and then to pass along.”

Alumna Suzanne Valicenti ’00 then added her welcome to the incoming students, “I cherished the time I spent at Elmira College. These were some of the best years of my life. I made lifelong friends with my teammates, professors and many members of the Elmira College Administration.  Small class sizes and immediate access to my professors and college resources allowed me to excel both in the classroom and on the basketball court. If I had to make the decision again, without question, I would choose Elmira College.”

Following welcome remarks by Baily Thomas ’18, Chris Coons, vice president of enrollment management, continued with an overview of the Class of 2021:

“As we welcome this geographically diverse class with strong international connections, we are also pleased to welcome 10% more new students than last year,” commented Coons. “The entire campus community, but especially the Offices of Admissions and Financial Aid with the Department of Athletics, made it possible to achieve this new student enrollment success. Faculty, administration, staff, and students all came together to help showcase Elmira’s beautiful campus, excellent academics, and opportunities to soar in life after EC.”

The Welcome Ceremony continued with the beloved tradition of each member of the incoming class receiving the class beanie.  As Coons read their names, students received their beanie and congratulations from Lindsay and his wife, Janna.

The ceremony concluded with the singing of the alma mater, lead by the Orientation Leaders, followed by the traditional Elmira Hug, a moment for new students and parents to hug and say their farewells.

While parents head home, the orientation fun for students continues throughout the weekend with performances, games, and more traditions such as Candlelight Ceremony – a long-standing and cherished tradition of welcome for the new class.

For parent James Rakus, heading home to Delaware without his son, Max Rakus ’21, will certainly be a change.

“It is a little nerve-racking because this is our last one off to college, but we are so happy he chose Elmira College. He’s going to have a great time here,” said James.

In reflecting on changes ahead, James shared some advice for Max and others, “You have to put yourself out there. The whole college experience is more than just going to class. You have to experience the games, the clubs, everything.”

With everything we have, we welcome all new students and the Unsurpassed Class of 2021!