High-fives and cheers were handed out to crowds of incoming freshmen, as they walked to the Oviatt Library Lawn for their 2015 Freshmen Convocation at California State University, Northridge.
The yearly event, hosted for incoming freshmen, aims to welcome students to their new campus and encourage them to get involved with the campus community. Through a focus on the Freshman Common Reading and speeches from varying university leaders, students and special guests, the ceremony attempts to unify the new class.
As the ceremony began, first speaker, CSUN President Dianne F. Harrison, congratulated new students on their arrival and offered advice on how to be successful.
“A successful first year is when you have the units that will allow you to graduate in four years, an excellent grade point average and meeting the challenge on leadership on our campus. All these activities are rewards in themselves,” Harrison said.
Personal stories of successful students were shared, inspiring students to follow the ceremony’s advice.
“I am pretty motivated after hearing their stories,” said Freshman student Ciara Modica. “I really want to try getting the Dianne F. Harrison leadership award.”
Further into the ceremony, special guest and keynote speaker David Levithan spoke about his book “Every Day.”
Levithan’s book was selected for this year’s Freshmen Common Reading. It is connected to the many courses at CSUN through its significant questions about diversity, identity and ethics. The book was selected from 19 other nominated books that relate to academic disciplines and individual interests.
“For the first time ever, I wrote a book to answer questions,” said Levithan. “What would it be like if you were not defined by your body? What if you were purely just yourself with no external manifestation, but just the person there was inside?”
Levithan explained how every individual is essentially the same, yet they focus on differences because of how their bodies divide them.
“The message is you have to choose how to define yourself. You should never let anyone define you by your body. It’s all arbitrary,” said Levithan. “They have no meaning except for the meaning we derive from them.”
Many freshman who have read the book praised it for its uniqueness and relatability.
“I liked how the book was so gender fluid, and how physical things didn’t matter. I can relate to that because so many people can be shallow,” said Freshman Ari Sotiropoulos.
As the ceremony came to an end, many attendees discussed the benefits of this event.
“It’s such a big campus but were trying to get students together and inspire them,” said department chair of communications Kathryn Sorrells. “We are often taught we don’t have the potential to pursue our dreams, but that’s not true. You can do whatever you set your mind to.”
Following the ceremony, students and guests were invited to the Oviatt Library patio to socialize with faculty and students. CSUN’s jazz band performed as free food, drinks and a book signing with Levithan was offered.
As students gathered and socialized after the ceremony, many were pleased with the event.
“I really did take the things they said into mind,” said Modica. “I’m glad to be here. This is definitely the school for me.”