​Formally welcoming the class of 2021

GVL/Kevin Sielaff - GVSU President Thomas Haas speaks at Grand Valleys annual Convocation ceremonies on Friday, August 26, 2016.

Kevin Sielaff

GVL/Kevin Sielaff – GVSU President Thomas Haas speaks at Grand Valley’s annual Convocation ceremonies on Friday, August 26, 2016.

Theresa Mueller

Every school year brings many unknowns for students, but particularly the incoming freshman class. Grand Valley State University faculty, staff and students take it upon themselves to ensure new students receive a welcome that displays the true comfort of the GVSU community.

The formal event to signify the collegiate start for the class of 2021 is the Convocation ceremony, which will be held at 11:30 a.m. Friday, Aug. 25, in the Fieldhouse Arena.

Transition leaders and resident assistants will prepare students for Convocation with many ice-breaking activities in the days leading up to the event.

Convocation itself is a “formal bookmark for the beginning of the school year,” said LeaAnn Tibbe, associate director of student life. The convocation ceremony has been a tradition since GVSU started and is “symbolic of a fresh new start.”

Throughout the event, there will be music and various speakers, and each componente will serve to “reassure and motivate the students,” Tibbe said. Although students themselves do not participate in the event, being part of the crowd gives them a moment to soak in the fact that they’ve officially made it to GVSU. 

The GVSU choral ensembles will perform the musical piece “Fight the Dragons.” The choice of music aligns with the purpose of inspiring the students and creating a comforting welcome.

The event will also provide students with pieces of advice and words of encouragement from various speakers, including GVSU President Thomas Haas, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs Maria Cimitile, student senate president Jonathan Bowman, and alumni Brittany and Briauna Taylor.

Tibbe said she saw alumni as a critical part of displaying the Laker Effect. Alumni speakers model how “(every student) has a different way to connect with the university” and show students that even after graduation, “you’re always part of the Laker family.”

Bowman said he hopes to reassure students that GVSU “is a place for students.”

“I was once in those same seats,” Bowman said. “At the end of the day, everyone around you is going through the same thing.”

By touching on personal experiences at GVSU and explaining “what the Laker Effect is to (him),” Bowman hopes students will consider what their Laker Effect will be by “using the next years to discover (themselves).”

Convocation will be followed by a class of 2021 photo being taken at Lubbers Stadium.

To lighten the transition from summer vacation to a fresh fall school year, additional welcome events—many of which are open to all students—are occurring on GVSU’s campuses this week.