In 2020, Tokyo will host the Summer Olympics, NASA will launch a mission to Mars and Harriet Tubman will replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill.
And Chestnut Hill College will graduate what is currently its second-largest class, with each member ready to make their mark in the world.
The official first day of school for the Class of 2020 was Friday, August 19, as students and their families arrived on campus with box after box and moved into the dorms. Students met their roommates, explored the halls and got to know members of the Residence Life team — guides in their first year away from home.
A labor-intensive event, Move-In Day was made easier thanks to the assistance of the Admissions Department, the Student Life team, student ambassadors and on the heavy-lifting end, the Chestnut Hill College Athletics Department.
Continuing a tradition that began in the fall of 2004, members of several athletics teams helped their new classmates carry in boxes, microwaves, refrigerators and many other belongings.
Popsicles were provided for all students and their families courtesy of The Lil Pop Shop of West Philadelphia and Student Life, and were a welcome treat on a hot day.
Following the hustle and bustle of move-in, students and their families attended the Fall Convocation. Donning black robes, similar to the ones they will wear as they graduate in four years, the students filed into Sorgenti Arena and were welcomed to the College by members of the administration, faculty and staff.
“While today’s procession was a short one, let it symbolize your journey from now to graduation. Let the gown you are wearing, to which one day we will add a hood and mortarboard, remind you that you are being inducted into a long line of persons who have learned and practiced a craft, who have studied and prayed, who have taught and served in many disciplines,” said Cecilia Cavanaugh, SSJ, Ph.D., dean of the School of Undergraduate Studies. “May the regalia you wear be an outward sign of the very warm welcome we extend to you, our new students.”
In what is the College’s largest incoming class since 2009 — consisting of more than 340 students representing first year, transfer, re-admits and the exchange student population — it is the diversity of the Class of 2020 that stands out.
Students arrived from 15 states, as far north as Maine, as far west as California and as far south as Texas. CHC’s international students came even further and represent 12 countries including England, France, Brazil, China, the Congo, Belgium and Saudi Arabia. The class ranges in age from 17 to 72, with women comprising 54 percent. Sixty-eight percent live on campus.
According to Jodie King Smith, vice president for enrollment, these students wear various badges of honor as well.
“Some of you are MVPs, all-conference players, junior firefighters, a Senator for the Day participant, a linguist who is fluent in three languages, a member of the Pennsylvania Girls’ Choir, several entrepreneurial students who have started their own businesses, Girls Scouts, Eagle Scouts and a professional tap dancer for the only all-female tap ensemble in Philadelphia.”
In her welcome to the students, Carol Jean Vale, SSJ, Ph.D., president of Chestnut Hill College, offered inspiring words as she encouraged the Class of 2020 to dream big and aspire to reach their goals.
“The formula for success at Chestnut Hill College is simple. Get involved and stay involved, because your involvement with each other will create lasting and deeply meaningful relationships which will be a source of energy and joy for the rest of your lives,” she said. “It is the richness of your diverse gifts that will strengthen you and give the Class of 2020 its singular identity.”
Also offering words of wisdom was Student Government Association president, Kimberly Morales ’17, who encouraged students to consider all of the opportunities that await them over the next four years and reminded them that they are now part of a community which cares about them and their success.
“Get out there and try new things,” she said. “Make friends that last a lifetime and don’t be afraid to stand out and make a difference. Your four years here won’t always be easy, but I can promise you’ll never be alone.”
— Marilee Gallagher ’14
This story originally appeared in the September 2016 issue of Connections. To read more from that issue, click here.