Richmond, Va.
Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014

A spirited welcome

New students enjoy their first week at VCU

Friday, Aug. 30, 2013

William Baugh and Molly McCoig were amazed by the frenetic scene around them.

The two VCU freshmen, both from Richmond, joined a crowd of other new students at the Siegel Center last Friday afternoon for the Student Organization and Volunteer Opportunities (SOVO) Fair, which links students to hundreds of campus and community organizations in need of members and volunteers.

As Baugh and McCoig stopped at the Salvation Army’s booth on the upper level walkway to learn more about the organization’s music programs, they surveyed their surroundings. The floor below resembled an ant farm, with students scurrying from booth to booth collecting pamphlets, T-shirts, cups and other promotional items.

“This is just awesome,” Baugh said.

“It’s crazy!" McCoig said. "I had no idea there were so many organizations at VCU.”

It was a fitting finish to a frantic Welcome Week 2013, which began six days earlier with fall move-in days.

The weather for moving in on Saturday was cool and cloudy, much more like fall, creating a perfect mood for parents to reminisce about their own days at VCU and the changes that have taken place since. Saturday’s student newcomers fared better than their Sunday counterparts, who rushed to protect suitcases, televisions, boxes of ramen noodles and other comforts from home from the falling rain.

But the soggy start for some did little to dampen the enthusiasm of students over the days ahead. And at no time was that more evident than during Tuesday’s New Student Convocation, Class of 2017 photo shoot and Ram Spirit Walk, which seemed to attract nearly all of the 3,600 new VCU students.

During the convocation, speakers welcomed students to the university and challenged them to make the most out of their time at VCU.

“Use what you learn here not simply to forge ahead but to forge a path for others – not just to prosper on your own journey but to lead others on theirs,” said Michael Rao, Ph.D., president of VCU.

Beverly Warren, Ed.D., Ph.D., provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, told the students they were part of an elite group with an insatiable desire to learn.

“College is the four-year bridge to the rest of your life,” Warren said. “Prepare yourself to lead a life of meaning.”

Students also heard from Michael Moss, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter and author of “Salt Sugar Fat,” this year’s Summer Reading Program selection. Moss told the students their life’s work will get done when they become aware of the “ah-ha” moments of discovery in their lives, spend time listening to others and soaking up what they say and learn from times of despair.

“At times when everything seems to go wrong, there is also an incredible moment of beauty, when you are working so hard to make it work,” Moss said. “Have trust and confidence in yourself and you’ll spin out of it.”

When the ceremony concluded, students listened to “The Peppas” pep band and learned VCU cheers. They posed for a Class of 2017 class picture, wearing black-and-gold T-shirts. The students were  positioned so that the gold T-shirts spelled out “Rams.” After the photo, university leaders led students on the Ram Spirit Walk from the Siegel Center to Monroe Park.

“This is a great place,” said Amanda Barnes, a freshman from Maryland. “I enjoy the liveliness of the city and have met so many people during Welcome Week.”

Monroe Park offered more opportunities for socializing. Arriving students were treated to a cookout and music.

“Everyone here is really spirited and made me feel welcome,” said Thomas Stogoski, a freshman from Ashburn. “I’m a music major and the culture and diversity attracted me here. This is a great place for the arts.”

With so many activities to introduce students to campus and to each other, it’s easy to understand why some of the new students were exhausted as the week wound down.

At the SOVO fair, McCoig summed up the experience with a smile.

“There’s nowhere else I’d rather be,” she said. “I love VCU.”



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Virginia Commonwealth University's incoming freshman class have arrived on campus and are getting settled in to their new VCU home. VCU will enroll an estimated 31,600 students this fall. This year's freshman class is expected to be approximately 3,600 students. Good luck, Class of 2017! We are glad you are here.

VCU New Student Convocation serves as the formal welcome to the VCU academic community and the official beginning of the school year for all new students. Convocation is followed by the Ram Spirit Walk and Welcome Week Block Party which celebrates our new students entrance into the university community with a rousing pep rally and a marching band-led walk from the Siegel Center to Monroe Park.

From left: New students Molly McCoig and William Baugh of Richmond meet with Sara Elliott, Salvation Army Corps music director, during the SOVO Fair. Photos by Mike Porter, University Public Affairs.
The SOVO Fair introduces thousands of VCU students to campus and community organizations.
The Ram Spirit Walk makes its way down Broad Street.
New students Amanda Barnes of Maryland, Auriel Doss of Texas and Frances Monroe of Maryland are big fans of Welcome Week and VCU.
New student Thomas Stogoski of Ashburn said he considers himself already a part of VCU because of the spirited welcome to campus.