Knapp, deans welcome Class of 2014 at Convocation

Dean of Freshmen Helen Cannaday Saulny implored the Class of 2014 to make the most out of their four years at GW during Freshman Convocation in the Smith Center Sunday afternoon.

Cannaday Saulny – along with University President Steven Knapp and Provost Steven Lerman – officially kicked off the academic careers of the freshman class, an event that was followed by a barbecue in University yard.

“The challenging part is managing your time successfully, how you are going to use those 100 waking hours in a week,” Cannaday Saulny said. “These hours, when used effectively, can produce results that will surpass your own expectations.”

Cannaday Saulny also encouraged students to use her office as a resource.

“I urge you to bring your questions and concerns to my office, but to bring your joys as well,” she said.

Students applauded and some stood up when Knapp was introduced. He articulated GW’s commitment to service, telling stories of alumni who have performed great deeds.

“These stories give a sense of personal qualities of the kinds of students this University attracts,” Knapp said. “These embody the deep tradition and culture of service and volunteering that has been a hallmark of this University since it was first conceived by its namesake.”

Lerman, another new member of the GW community, called the Class of 2014 “the most academically talented among the classes we have admitted.”

“I want to congratulate all that hard work that got you here today. But the truth is, that hard work is just the beginning,” Lerman said.

Sophomore Hunter Thomas had a personal message to share at Convocation. Upon learning this spring that his father was gravely ill, Thomas struggled to get through final exams and the end of his freshman year, at one point questioning whether he would be able to return to GW.

“I now understand the advice that I heard at my own Convocation, to get involved and get to know both classmates and professors,” Thomas said. “During what was one of the worst times of my life, it was my GW family that really pulled me through the experience.”

The ceremony culminated with an introduction of each of the school’s deans. With all students invited to stand with the other members of their schools, the Smith Center was alive with applause and enthusiastic cheering.

“It was exciting to see everyone all together, with all the different schools in the same place,” said freshman Gracie Bayliss.

As students flooded out of the Smith Center to head toward a freshman cookout in University Yard, the excitement for the next four years was palpable.

“Convocation was a great way to gather the whole class together,” said Joe McHenry, a freshman. “It was exciting to see us all as one big class, all starting out on the same thing.”

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