On Thursday, September 1, 2016, Marymount Manhattan College officially welcomed the Class of 2020 and new transfer students to the campus community at the New Student Convocation, a festive event attended by hundreds of students, faculty, staff, and trustees.
Following an academic procession led by Grand Marshal Jill Stevenson, Associate Professor of Theatre Arts and Faculty Council President, the incoming class was greeted by MMC President Kerry Walk as well as Hope Knight, Chairperson of the Board of Trustees.
Carol Jackson, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, introduced three speakers, who welcomed new students into the MMC family: Irene Gonzalez, President of the Student Government Association (SGA); Vladimir Martinez ’14, Director of Budget and Capital projects in the Office of the Manhattan Borough President; and Zakkiyya Taylor, Assistant Director for Student and Community Engagement. Looking back on their own college careers, the speakers shared their best advice rising to the challenge of college.
Gonzalez observed, “The best thing about our community is that someone is always here to catch you. It’s just what we do as Griffins. Whether it is your professors, the staff, your Peer Leader, or your first college buddy—being a Griffin means you are not alone.”
Martinez quoted Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who said, “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” Martinez then noted, “That quote represents this exact moment, no?–the moment where the entire staircase of your academic career is not revealed to you, but you’ve decided that you have the tools—yourself, your loved ones, and this community—to help you build the kind of staircase that makes most sense for the journey you’re meant to have.”
Taylor challenged students to “find that thing that clicks for you here. Give a little of yourself to an organization. Lend your voice to an idea, project or cause.” She added: “Here at MMC, you’ll hear the term family a lot. And to us, that means so much. You’ll be surrounded by faculty who you’ll get to know and staff who are always here for you. And most importantly, you’ll create friendships that’ll last a lifetime. So welcome to our family. Welcome home!”
Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty Katie LeBesco brought her own greetings and conducted the ceremonial Presentation of the Pins. Each new student was given a pin featuring the MMC logo on the image of a “big apple” as a tribute to New York City and the intent of the College’s founders—to provide a liberal arts education in a culturally rich urban environment. Upperclass Peer Leaders were invited to the stage to share what the MMC pin meant to them: integrity, passion, community, freedom of expression, creativity, inclusivity, friendship, among many other meanings. Then, in the highlight of the ceremony, Dean LeBesco asked students to exchange pins, not once, but twice, symbolizing students’ connection to each other. Students then affixed a pin to their own shirts.
The Convocation concluded with a raucous singing of the College’s Alma Mater, Hail Marymount! led by Musical Theatre students under the direction of Emily Clark, Visiting Instructor of Theatre Arts. The event was the culmination of a week of orientation activities for new students and a celebratory launch of the new academic year.