By Ryan O’Connell
President Nancy Niemi addressed incoming students at the All-University Welcome in preparation for the upcoming academic year, alongside faculty and student leaders, Sept. 5.
She spoke alongside Kristen Porter-Utley, the provost and vice president of Academic Affairs, orientation leaders such as Eveyln Campbell and Josh Reis Soares, and Cara Pina, a biology professor, on behalf of the faculty, who all shared their excitement in greeting incoming first-years.
Niemi said this year’s All-University Welcome was a renewed tradition at FSU.
“We used to wear big fancy robes and line up - regalia it’s called, those big robes that’ve been around since the 15th century. We ditched the robes - we still have speeches, but fewer of them, and we added some fun,” she said.
She added, “And the best part, which is an official welcome to Framingham State University.”
Niemi said rituals like these are important for connecting the University as a community.
She asked attendees to remember rituals they’ve participated in with their family and friends.
“You might not remember what was said, or what you ate, or what you wore - or maybe you do - but that feeling of celebration and of transition remains,” she said.
Niemi said she hopes this year’s incoming class will take FSU’s motto - “Live to the Truth” - to heart.
She added she has heard many interpretations of the century-old phrase, and believes there are many different truths to be recognized.
“So here’s the truth I offer you today - every one of us who works here loves you,” she said.
Niemi said she knows that everyone at FSU - her, the Orientation Leaders, financial aid officers, coaches, dining hall staff, and many more - has had a life-changing experience at FSU, and are dedicated to helping students have that life-changing experience themselves.
She added everyone at FSU is there for the incoming class - to challenge them, support them, and celebrate them.
“If that isn’t love, I don’t know what is,” she said.
Niemi said helping higher education supports the entire community. She added this enables individuals, families, and friends to live better lives by creating social wealth, and challenged the idea college “isn’t worth it anymore.
“Nothing could be further from the truth,” she said.
Niemi addressed some common self doubts college students have when they compare themselves to other students and insist they aren’t as smart, creative, or as good of an athlete as their peers.
She said the feeling of not being “college material” is an “entirely not true” feeling that everybody else somehow has figured out their entire lives.
“The truth - and there’s that word again - is that none of us know exactly what’s going on all the time,” Niemi said. “And that truth means that we all belong.”
Niemi added, “The biggest truth is that we are all here with you, and we are so happy you’re here - so let’s go Rams!”
Evelyn Campbell shared her journey as a student, and how she became this year’s SGA president, highlighting the doubts she originally had about getting involved in student organizations.
Campbell advocated for the skills and enjoyment that come with being a student leader, and encouraged the new Rams to engage with the campus in any way they can.
“Join that sport or organization, take that new job, or talk to that person that sits next to you in class - you may never know where that will lead you,” she said.
Cara Pina spoke on behalf of the faculty at the welcome event, and said the professors at FSU want to see them succeed. She added students are always able to come speak to faculty with concerns and issues.
Josh Reis Soares, another orientation leader, then gave some final words of encouragement to the new students.
Soares said he has grown a lot since his first year of college, and now as a sophomore has worked hard to let go of a lot of insecurities he held onto from high school.
He added that everyone has things they don’t like about themselves, and urged attendees to be proud of themselves. He also challenged students to leave their comfort zones in their first year, and to do something new, something scary.
Soares said in high school, he never made the basketball team, but he didn’t let that stop him from enjoying the sport.
“You’ve just got to be patient. A lot of you are going to have lonely nights,” he said. “Some days you just aren’t going to feel like you’re good enough.
“It’s easy to see shade when you’re looking away from the sun,” he said.