GW officials encouraged about 2,000 freshmen to explore academically and grow personally during Freshman Convocation Sunday.
University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg offered the final words at the event telling students to explore the University and city and to realize the opportunity they have to fulfill their dreams.
“Don’t blow this chance. Have a lot of fun, but learn a lot, too,” Trachtenberg said.
Quoting former President James Garfield, who was also once a University president, Trachtenberg said, “God takes 100 years to make an oak tree and two years to make a squash. Be a big tree or a little squash, it’s your choice.”
Trachtenberg explained importance of students spending time on their academics while also taking advantage of opportunities in D.C.
Freshman Patricia Lee said she was impressed with the president’s comments.
“He showed that he is making an effort to be in contact with students,” she said. “It shows that he as president cares about the students, which is comforting to hear.”
Other speakers included GW Vice President of Academic Affairs Donald Lehman, Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees Joe Brand, Alumni Association President Stanley Grube, Student Association President Roger Kapoor and 2000-01 Teacher of the Year Peter Rollberg.
Lehman touted academic discovery and urged students to create meaning in scholastic experiences.
“Do not use college simply as a stepping stone, don’t just get through it for a credential,” he said. “Seek out and accept challenges in your course work.”
Lehman told students to ask questions and embrace discovery in order to “max opportunities for personal maturity” and “individual growth.”
Freshman Gina Many said she appreciated Lehman’s speech.
“I felt inspired by what he said,” she said. “We have so many resources here, why not use them?”
Professor Peter Rollberg, director of University Honors Program, complimented Lehman’s academic statements by speaking about the importance of personality and faith. Rollberg said grades in college are not everything and strong personality is the most important thing.
“Grades are not representative of personality or the lack of it,” he said. “Strong personality can be found in positive values.”
He told students to resist falling into a cynical view of the world.
“Cynicism is for the weak, faith is for the strong. Be strong,” Rollberg said.
Freshman Andrew Bradley said he liked all of the speakers’ messages, especially Rollberg’s comments on having a positive attitude.
“Being an optimist you get all you can from life, but as a pessimist you miss out,” he said.
Freshman Alisa Ivanutenko said she liked that Rollberg discussed something other than academics.
“I’m glad he sent out a different message than everyone else, to believe in yourself and that grades are not the most important thing,” she said.