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Welcome, Freshmen: New Students, New Year at Penn State DuBois
August 23, 2013
DuBois Ė Nearly 250 people officially became Penn State DuBois students at the campus' annual Fall Convocation Ceremonies and New Student Orientation on Thursday. Chancellor Melanie Hatch welcomed the students, as well as their parents and other family members, during the convocation ceremony. It was also Hatch's first campus convocation since becoming chancellor in January.

"I congratulate you on your decision to attend this campus; a place where you will receive a world-class, big university education, in a small, comfortable atmosphere," Hatch said. "As I have already learned, and you will discover quickly, Penn State DuBois and this community have a great deal to offer, inside and outside of the classroom."

Hatch went on to encourage students to embrace their community and the individuals who support them in their education. She said, "The concept of community is very important to me, personally, and to those who make up our dedicated faculty and staff. In fact, itís the people you will meet here that represent one of our many strengths at this campus. I encourage you to get to know them because they embody a wealth of knowledge and experience. They will serve as your guides, your mentors and, occasionally, even your cheerleaders. We want you to succeed; and every single person in this room, and that includes your friends and family members sitting next to you, are willing to go the extra mile to make that happen."

Members of the new Penn State DuBois class make up a diverse community in their own right. The group is a mix of recent high school graduates, as well as returning adult students. They come from as far away as China, and from as close as the immediate DuBois area. They also represent eight states, including California, Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Virginia, as well as 25 Pennsylvania counties and 82 different high schools. 

In order to fuel the community spirit on campus, new students spent the morning before convocation ceremonies participating in icebreaker exercises as part of their orientation. They worked in groups to accomplish tasks, such as moving plastic cups using only string, without directly touching the cups, and passed hula-hoops down a line of people standing, hand-and-hand, without breaking the human chain. The exercises are designed to demonstrate the importance of team work and critical thinking; concepts that educators at Penn State DuBois believe are paramount to a well-rounded education. 

Student Government Association President Conner Park recommended to this new community of students that they come together through the activities offered at the campus, much the way they did during the morning exercise, in order to form new relationships and get the most from their college experience. He said, "I can offer three pieces of advice: Stay active, be dedicated to your studies, and have fun with it. When you are more active and part of something, your experience here at Penn State DuBois will be that much sweeter. College will be the best time of your life. Embrace it."

During her address to the crowded gymnasium, Hatch also asked students to embrace college, and every opportunity that it provides both in and out of the classroom.   "I challenge you to get involved in our community as there are many alternatives to choose from. We have a wide variety of student clubs and organizations, service learning opportunities, and cultural events," Hatch said, indicating that extra circular involvement strengthens an already valuable education.  

"Lately, there has been a great deal of public debate over the value of a college degree," Hatch continued.  "As the daughter of a school superintendent, education has been a big part of my life for many years. I have no doubt that my colleagues here today will agree with me when I tell you that it is never a bad decision to further your education. A college degree opens many new career doors for you. But itís a college education; the first step of which you are embarking on today, that opens your mind to all the possibilities of who you are and what you can be."

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