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President Raab Welcomes Class of 2015 at Convocation

Hunter College President Jennifer Raab, clad in Hunter purple, welcomed a lively group of more than 800 freshmen and transfer students to this year's convocation ceremony, held in the Assembly Hall of the North Building on Wednesday, September 7. Many of those in attendance, who filtered into the auditorium to the upbeat music performed by the Hunter College Jazz Band, showed their school spirit by wearing purple.

"You each have unique backgrounds and accomplishments," Raab told the students, "but you all share something in common - you are all talented enough and smart enough to have been accepted to Hunter College." 

Only one in four applicants is accepted to Hunter, and these exceptional candidates come from 78 countries and speak 59 languages, according to the President. While situated in what she called "the most fascinating city in the world," this diverse student population can also benefit from a wealth of resources that abound right on campus.  

"Start by getting to know your professors," President Raab advised the new students starting their Hunter journey. "Here's a valuable statistic to know: one of the best indicators of success in college is how often a student goes to professors' office hours and requests one-on-one guidance and discussion." She also encouraged students to communicate with their administrators, provosts, and deans.

After announcing several new college initiatives already underway, including a major library renovation and the opening of the Lois V. and Samuel J. Silberman School of Social Work building in East Harlem this fall, President Raab turned the podium over to playwright David Lamb, a 1987 graduate of Hunter.

Lamb shared with the students some advice he wished someone had given him when he started at Hunter. He offered witty reminders that hard-sole shoes are not required and that "GPA" is not a baseball statistic. He urged students to rely on the terrific teaching assistants, study hard, exercise discipline, apply to the New York State Assembly Internship program, and always demand a fresh slice of pizza from the pizzeria on E. 70th Street because the old crusty slices will not provide the energy required to get through a long day of classes.

After Lamb's remarks, senior theater majors Tyler Britt and Kristina Desilva performed a scene from Lamb's play Platanos Y Collard Greens.

Senior biology major and captain of the Hunter cross country team Mehida Alexandre shared her formula for success at Hunter. "Study hard, get involved, and have fun," she repeated for emphasis, adding that it helps if students keep an open mind, voice their opinions, and interact with their professors.

Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Eija Ayravainen reminded the new class that they are not alone at Hunter; faculty and staff are always willing to help. She introduced the academic advisors and reminded students to visit them throughout their Hunter career. Dean Ayravainen recommended that members of the Class of 2015 join one of the more than 100 clubs, or participate in one of the many Hunter sports teams.

Ranette Garcia, president of the Undergraduate Student Government (USG), discussed the exciting events that the USG is sponsoring at Hunter throughout the year, including a performance by the rapper Nas. She encouraged students to get to know their fellow classmates.

Psychology professor Diana Reiss, who was suffering from a bout of laryngitis, asked her graduate assistant and adjunct professor of psychology, Preston Foerder, to talk about their exciting research with elephants. Foerder then showed a video featuring a seven-year-old elephant, who devised a problem-solving strategy using a branch as a tool. Foerder explained that the elephant had an "aha" moment during the experiment, similar to those we experience when we figure out a way to complete a challenging task.

Senior Alexander Akulov, an economics and political science major, detailed the many opportunities he was afforded at Hunter, such as working in the student welcome center and as a student ambassador, interning at Bloomberg L.P., and studying abroad in China. He also talked about the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute, where interested students can take classes, study, or attend events with such luminaries as Bill Clinton and Bill Gates.

Recent graduate Timothy Edwards ('11) shared a personal story with the new class about how the Hunter Dance Program changed his life; he will now be touring with the David Dorfman Dance Company.

"Time to follow the Hawk!" President Raab exclaimed, closing the ceremony. Led by the feathery mascot, a group of enthusiastic students exited the assembly hall and headed to the Sportsplex Gym for a post-convocation party, featuring a live DJ, gifts, and prize giveaways.

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