On Friday, the worlds of home and college intermingled for the Classes of 2016 as they arrived on campus amidst social media postings of friends and family wishing them luck in college and messages from HWS students, staff and fellow first-years sharing information and excitement about their arrival.
“It is my pleasure to welcome our new Classes,” says President Mark D. Gearan, who along with Mary Herlihy Gearan greeted each student and his or her family as they arrived on campus. “This is an impressive group of individuals with a range of interests and passions and a strong commitment to community service.”
From across the country, enthusiastic first-years anticipating Orientation weekend stood waiting to shake the President’s hand before heading to residence halls to settle. They also met Provost Titilayo Ufomata, several deans, and staff members from across campus who gathered to meet them. For Tora Bonnier ’16, of New Albany, Ohio, the journey to campus was long, but electric with excitement. “I can’t even say what I’m looking forward to most this weekend – there’s just so much,” said Bonnier. “But this semester, I am most excited to get to hang out with my roommate.”
Bonnier and her roommate, Megan Lavin ’16, of Baltimore, Md., met in person for the first time early Friday morning – but already know they have a great deal in common. “We met months ago when we were assigned roommates,” explained Bonnier. “We’ve been Skyping each other tons ever since.”
Brodie Pavo ’16, of Reisterstown, Md., can’t wait to take to the ice at the Cooler as a member of the Hobart hockey team, while Brian Schimmel ’16, who traveled with his family from Bedford, N.H., was eager to move through the line of fellow Hobart first-years. “I can’t wait to move into my room in Potter,” explained Schimmel, who is excited to begin his study of international relations and English. “This is just such a great place to start.”
Comprising 607 individuals, the Classes of 2016 represent the most talented first-year classes in the Colleges’ history. Hailing from 11 countries and 32 states within the U.S., the incoming students bring with them diverse backgrounds as editors of their high school newspapers, class officers, student government representatives, and community service leaders. Continuing to rank among the nation’s brightest, the Colleges were able to recognize more than a third of the incoming students with merit awards and honors. In addition to their exceptional academic credentials, of the 620 enrolled, 220 were captains of a varsity sport in high school and, notably, about 100 come from legacy families.
Nearly a quarter of the incoming classes have immersed themselves in community service activities throughout their high school careers. They have held leadership roles as student-to-student mentors and organizers of clubs or groups that have addressed such issues as autism, cancer, poverty and homelessness. They have worked with established programs and organizations such as Locks of Love, Toys for Tots, Special Olympics, Project Eye-to-Eye, American Red Cross and Habitat for Humanity. Their efforts have benefited families, children, seniors and entire communities, have stocked food pantries and raised thousands of dollars for charities.
The students will participate in a weekend of activities to give them an introduction to life at Hobart and William Smith.