College is back at the University of West Georgia, with students returning to campus for the fall 2021 semester today and the institution’s class of 2025 welcomed in a Convocation ceremony Tuesday night.
President Dr. Brendan Kelly spoke during the ceremony, sharing with the first-year students that attendance at UWG will position them to “fill [their] toolbox” with the knowledge, skills and abilities they will need in their career when they graduate – if not before.
“Going to a university is not simply about earning a degree,” Kelly said. “It’s about building your personal and professional network and developing your ability to continue learning for the rest of your life.”
Sydney Severin, president of UWG’s Student Government Association, echoed Kelly’s sentiments, sharing her personal experience of starting at UWG.
“My first night on campus, after my family left, I cried all night,” she said. “I allowed myself to become engulfed in my loneliness, but that changed quickly when I saw what UWG had to offer. Participate in different activities and events, become acquainted with people you wouldn’t normally meet, find new things, and create memories. The university is here for you and has the resources you need to be successful. Take advantage of them.”
The university will offer an enhanced student experience this academic year, with more in-person, on-campus classes and new, advanced learning technology in nearly every classroom on campus to remove the barriers of space and time in support of learning – in addition to the opening of Roy Richards Sr. Hall, the new home of the Richards College of Business.
“The faculty at the University of West Georgia are here to help you succeed and get the most out of your UWG experience,” said Dr. Jon Preston, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “Whether it’s through peer academic coaching, supplemental instruction, or getting you connected with leaders in your chosen industry before you graduate, we are here to support you as you keep your eye on the prize: turning your tassel at Commencement.”
Students were encouraged to attend the 100s of events in the first six weeks of the semester, collectively known as Connect the Pack, designed to build connectedness and community among all UWG stakeholders.
“At ceremonies like these, students are often told to get involved and be engaged, but they’re rarely told why they should do that,” said Dr. André Fortune, vice president for student affairs. “The skills you’ll learn from attending events and being involved – time management, proactive planning, conflict resolution – will make you all the more impressive to a potential employer when you’re interviewing for a job after graduation.”
Following remarks and giveaways, a chosen first-year student lit the university’s Flame of Knowledge, a tradition to start each academic year at UWG, before Alyssa Pinson, a student in music education, sang the institution’s alma mater.
Kelly encouraged students to examine their “toolbox” each month to ensure they are gaining what they need to be successful when they graduate.
“Our focus at the University of West Georgia is to position you to be able to impact positive change and solve problems in a 21st-century world that is getting more complicated every day,” Kelly said. “While you’re here, fill your toolbox so that I can stand at this same podium in a few years at your Commencement and send you off, ready to take on the world.”