Convocation includes the symbolic issuing of a Cardinals baseball cap, which the freshmen are encouraged to exchange for a graduation cap in four years.
Convocation includes the symbolic issuing of a Cardinals baseball cap, which the freshmen are encouraged to exchange for a graduation cap in four years.

Acting President Neville Pinto provided a pep talk to the nearly 2,800 incoming freshmen during last Friday’s convocation. The traditional event welcomes new students to campus and includes the symbolic issuing of a Cardinals baseball cap, which the freshmen are encouraged to exchange for a graduation cap during graduation four years from now.

During his speech, Pinto acknowledged the students’ excitement and tried to calm any nerves: “Faces and spaces will become familiar,” he promised.

Acting President Neville Pinto.
Acting President Neville Pinto.

“College is an extremely special time because you’re learning your education. But you’re also learning to be independent and experiencing diversity – diversity in thought, people and cultures. You’re exploring broader interests and building friendships and your network for the future,” he said. “We are ready for you and we welcome you. Each one of you has the potential to achieve your goals. Prove us right.”

Pinto then introduced the freshman class to the university’s leaders, including acting provost Dale Billingsley and the deans for each school. He also introduced dean of students Michael Mardis, incoming faculty senate chair Enid Trucios-Haynes and SGA president Aaron Vance, and acknowledged executive director of admissions Jenny Sawyer and her team for bringing this class to campus.

Vance offered the freshmen advice from his fellow student perspective, telling them to balance work and play, to have fun and to appreciate their time here, as it goes fast. He also challenged them to experience growth in the five key aspects of the CARDS initiative – community, academics, responsibility, diversity and service. 

SGA President Aaron Vance.
SGA President Aaron Vance.

“Get to know as many of your classmates as possible. Academically, challenge yourself. Develop a schedule; routines are key to college. Break out of your comfort zone this year. Explore an idea or a concept that you know nothing about,” Vance said. “Make new friends and take those interactions to the next level. They will stick with you for the rest of your life.”

Brandeis School of Law professor Enid Trucios-Haynes closed out the introduction with a series of her favorite inspiring quotes for the freshmen:

  • “Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.” – Langston Hughes
  • “You must do the things you think you cannot do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
  • “What we mean by maturity in people’s thinking is not a matter of how smart they are, but it is a matter of the order of consciousness in which they exercise their smartness or their lack of it.” – Robert Kegan

Trucios-Haynes also offered up some pieces of advice that have helped her navigate through her career, including:

  • Be human and recognize the humanity in others who are different than you.
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously.
  • Everyone needs help; you just need to recognize the need and know when to ask for it.
  • Be relational; get to know others.
  • Laugh, laugh, and laugh some more.
  • There’s a time for work and for play.
  • Be courageous.

“My wish for each and every one of you is you discover your passion and chart your own path to success however you define it,” Trucios-Haynes said.

Incoming Faculty Senate Chair Enid Trucios-Haynes.
Incoming Faculty Senate Chair Enid Trucios-Haynes.
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Alicia Kelso
Alicia Kelso is editor of UofLNews and UofL Today. She joined UofL in 2015 as communications director of the Brandeis School of Law. Prior, she was the editorial director of foodservice media for Networld Media Group, where her work was featured in publications around the world, including NPR, Bloomberg, The Seattle Times, Good Morning America and Franchise Asia Magazine. She continues to serve as a contributor for many publications, including QSRweb.com, FastCasual.com and Innovation Leader.