By Sarah Kinney
For 102 years, Honors Convocation has marked the beginning of the school year. It serves a dual purpose – welcoming in the first-year students and recognizing the academic achievements of the upperclassmen.
Speakers at Convocation addressed how students define themselves while attending Simmons, often in unexpected ways and not always tied neatly with a bow.
College of Arts and Sciences Dean Renee White spoke to this year’s orientation theme, “Define yourself.”
“That’s really a big question you’re asked to do,” White said. “Who are you now? What do you want to be in the future? Why is that important? And why is it important to change and to not always stick to the plan? That’s all right as well.”
She said that first-year students were asked to define themselves today and where they saw themselves in the future.
“You are being asked to define yourself for yourself,” she said. “That’s the beauty of being at college.”
Class of 2015 President Sana Sajjad explained that the future will come sooner than anticipated.
“It’s like we blinked and found ourselves a year from graduation,” Sajjad said.
Despite how quickly it went by, she added, so much has happened.
“Somewhere between all those walks between campuses and coffees from Meyers, we became who we are today,” Sajjad said. “Simmons changed our lives.”
“It’s amazing how much of life is made of transitions,” said newly appointed Deputy Provost Stefan Krug. “Moving from something to something.”
Dean of Student Life Sarah Neill reflected on the last three years of the class of 2015’s time at Simmons, noting events from the Occupy Wall Street and Arab Spring movements, to the powerful Japanese tsunami, to William and Kate’s wedding, and the release of Adele’s “21.”
She also commented on local changes and challenges the students have faced, such as development in the Fenway neighborhood, the Red Sox winning last year’s World Series, and the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.
Neill said like Boston and the world, the students have changed. They have confidence “and the slight hint of a swagger.”
She challenged all students to set a goal to accomplish a great big “thing” and to have courage.
“If there is one thing I know that’s true, it’s that transformation is entirely uncomfortable,” Neill said. “Listen to yourself . . . trust.”
Twenty students were inducted into Academy, the honor society of Simmons made of the top 10 percent of the class. They are Alyssa Conley, Anne Crockett, Alyssa Graca, Brittany Hill, Jennifer Inloes, Sarah Kinney, Katherine Kulig, Lena Manolson Lax, Desta Marika, Denver McCarthney, Madeleine Ohman, Julie Pallozzi, Michelle Potter, Sara Purisky, Allison Richards, Ameerah Saker, Ashley Vitale, Maria Voronina, and Tabitha Waite.
Alumni Association President Enna Jimenez presented the Alumnae Award for Academic Achievement to Alyssa Conley.
Dean’s list students were also recognized for their achievements. Neill specifically recognized Haley Cremer, a Dean’s list student who died in a car accident over the summer. Her parents attended convocation.