Treats and Tradition: Florida State serves up tasty start to new academic year
Florida State freshmen, take note: Not having it all figured out just may well be the best approach to college.
That was the message award-winning science writer Rebecca Skloot delivered to Florida State University's Class of 2015 during New Student Convocation held on Sunday, Aug. 28, at the Tallahassee-Leon County Civic Center. The annual event officially welcomes first-year students into the university's community of scholars and introduces them to the university's history and traditions on the eve of the first day of the fall semester.
"I hope you'll let your passion and curiosity get the best of you while you're here," Skloot said. "Sign up for classes that catch your eye. If you read something that fills you with questions, or if a teacher says something that grabs you, follow it. Don't accept simple answers like 'I don't know,' and never be afraid to ask hard questions."
Skloot, the author of "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks," was the keynote speaker at the hour-long ceremony. Skloot's New York Times bestseller was chosen as the 2011 One Book/One Campus summer reading for all of FSU's incoming first-year students and has already stimulated discussions on campus about important issues related to medicine, research and ethics. Skloot also met with students and faculty following the Convocation in a special question-and-answer period held in Ruby Diamond Concert Hall.
About 5,000 of the approximately 6,100-member freshman class attended the hour-long ceremony. The most academically accomplished freshman class in at least 30 years, members of the Class of 2015 are among nearly 41,000 students who will begin classes on Monday, Aug. 29.
FSU President Eric J. Barron welcomed the new students and introduced Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Garnett S. Stokes, who delivered the opening remarks and, later in the ceremony, the charge to the Class of 2015.
Following the ceremony, thousands of new students joined Barron and his wife, Molly, at their home for the President's Backyard BBQ, which featured free food and entertainment. Sponsored by the Student Alumni Association, Seminole Dining served up more than 1,200 pounds of barbecue beef, 600 pounds of green beans and 200 pounds of chicken, along with snow cones and other tasty treats.
Decked out in T-shirts in an array of colors to represent the university's 16 colleges, the freshmen found it easy to meet their new classmates at the Convocation and barbecue.
"You instantly have an opportunity to find someone who is thinking about the future in the same way that you are thinking about the future," said Barron, who initiated the colored T-shirts last year for that very reason.
Serina Hull, a freshman exploratory student from Weston, Fla., said events such as the Convocation and the President's Backyard BBQ were helping to keep any anxiety about starting college at bay.
"Florida State keeps you really busy, especially if you have people to do things with," she said. She met new friends Rafaela Pereira and Alexandria Gaffney earlier this week in her residence hall, Kellum, and later discovered that they were all exploratory students — easily identifiable by the white T-shirts they wore to Sunday's events.
"Any chance to meet people" was the reason freshman Chris King of Orlando cited for attending Sunday's events, while sporting his black T-shirt to represent the College of Business.
Before concluding the Convocation, Dean of Undergraduate Studies Karen Laughlin called upon students to commit to live by the values embodied in the torches on the university seal. Four upper-class students passed torches representing Vires (strength), Artes (skill) and Mores (character) to a trio of incoming students. Participating in the ceremony were:
The torch recipients for the Class of 2015 were the winners of Florida State's annual Vires, Artes, Mores essay contest for first-year students: