Summer Orientation 2014 ~ Class of 2018

Jul 11, 2014

Students welcome the Class of 2018 to campus for Summer Orientation.

I am delighted to have this opportunity to welcome all of you to Marywood University and to our New Student Orientation 2014. First, I’d like to thank everyone involved in preparing these special days of new beginnings. Let’s ask all of the Marywood University students and staff whose hard work has made this experience possible to please stand (or just wave if you are already standing). I want to especially thank Maria Temples and Michael Romano, the student co-chairs of Orientation Weekend.

Thank you for the energy, enthusiasm, and dedication that you have invested in this weekend in order to welcome your newest classmates. Ladies and Gentlemen, let us give all of these outstanding students and staff a hearty round of applause.

Class of 2018, I welcome you and your families with a joyful heart—consider yourselves Marywood VIPs! Each of you has chosen to become a part of Marywood, and now Marywood will become part of who you are, remaining with you, even when your days on this campus are just a cherished memory.

This weekend’s theme—Backstage Pass—is intended to give you an introductory glimpse at the Marywood life. However, this weekend marks a true turning point; you’ve become more than big fans of this university. You’ve passed the audition, and you’ve accepted your biggest role to date—you’re a Marywood student and a vital part of our university community.

What we do here at Marywood has been a hit for 99 years and counting. We attribute that to a great script—our mission and our core values. These guiding principles have directed our path from our founding in 1915 through today and beyond.

First of all, we provide a welcoming and supportive community, which I am sure you’re already experiencing—Orientation Weekend is just the start.

We believe that education empowers people, so your time at Marywood will be the foundation for greater things. You will be empowered by others, both in the classroom and through the many other opportunities that will shape your experience here—friendships, residence life; local, national, and international service; research and internships; student life activities. You, in turn, will empower others through your distinctive gifts and talents.

Let me give you a few examples.

Marywood’s first graduating class of fifth-year Bachelor of Architecture students, who celebrated their Commencement in May, focused their final projects on urban conditions and how architecture can integrate into a neighborhood to help build community, economy, and opportunities.

Through research and working with local charities focused on revitalizing Scranton’s South Side, the students—now graduates—identified three major programmatic needs in the area: a branch library, an arts incubator, and a youth center. By designing with care and consideration to existing conditions, while also recognizing unmet needs of the community, their collective work shows how new life and promise can be created in a neighborhood.

Lauren Olsen, who just earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders, is presently pursuing a Master of Science Degree in Speech Pathology from Marywood, which she will earn in May 2015. She received a graduate assistantship position in the CSD department that will provide her with extensive experience in her field. Additionally, she was awarded a scholarship from the Northeastern Speech and Hearing Association of Pennsylvania. Lauren will do her practicum assignment at the Scranton Area Augmentative-Alternative Communication Center at Marywood and St. Joseph’s Center, which has been serving individuals with severe communication deficits since 2011.

During her undergraduate years, Lauren was a member of Autism Speaks, Volunteers in Action, the Dean’s Leadership Council, and was a Maxis-Gillet Service Scholar. She was awarded the Dolores M. Ackourey Medal for Excellence in Leadership and Human Relations at Commencement.

Lauren shared, “I have been given so many wonderful opportunities that Marywood has provided, as well as a wonderful educational foundation. The most important thing I learned at Marywood is the importance of serving others. There is a great emphasis on community service, which has strengthened my relationships and made me a better person. I know that I have the knowledge and qualifications necessary to succeed in my field, but Marywood has also provided me with the moral values that will allow me to truly serve and make an impact in the lives of my future clients.”

Indeed, it is our mission to educate you to live responsibly in an interdependent world. What does that mean? It means something a little different for everyone, but I assure you that we at Marywood will provide the proper direction, staging, and supporting cast, so that your star will shine brightly, allowing you to become who you’re meant to be and empowering others in the process.

Rebecca Ann Scwalb, who graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and History, understands this role very well. She was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship and is beginning her assistantship this month, working as an English Teaching Assistant in South Korea. Although many Marywood students have been Fulbright finalists in the past, Rebecca is the first to earn this prestigious scholarship. Like Lauren Olsen, Rebecca also was a Maxis-Gillet Service Scholar during her time at Marywood. She has a passion for teaching and learning languages, and she speaks Spanish fluently, as well as Arabic and Hebrew. While at Marywood, Rebecca participated in life-changing service trips to Tanzania, Ecuador, and Guatemala to volunteer, work, and intern. She has used her gifts, her talents, and her passion to realize her dreams in her own distinctive way—and what a difference she has made and continues to make.

When I mention the achievements of our first architecture class or Lauren or Rebecca, I do so because—shaped by your own remarkable experiences—that will one day be you. Today, we celebrate your start as students, but we envision you as graduates, always. In what distinctive ways will you realize your dreams, use your talents, and pursue your passion? Keep questioning these things and actively seek the answers.

The amazing Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani girl who survived a bullet wound to the head and who has inspired millions with her strength of character and her unwavering courage as an advocate for education—especially the education of girls—reminds us that positive change begins with each of us, and it can spring forth in small, simple ways. She said, “Let us remember: One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world.”

There are many paths to the lives that you are envisioning, shaping, and building. There are many ways—great and small—to change the world.

I can’t emphasize this enough:  it doesn’t matter what your background is or what your academic and professional goals are—even if you haven’t decided on a major, or if you change your mind about your course direction along the way—everyone has a place here; each role is important. You ARE the Class of 2018. No class before you or after you will be quite the same. So, develop those distinctive qualities about you, individually and collectively; ask those probing questions; seek meaningful answers; and live in ways that add to the masterpiece that is the Class of 2018.

When an educational journey is a new one, as yours is, imagining your future can seem overwhelming, but I encourage you to step outside of your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid; the entire Marywood University community is here to support you. Open your eyes, minds, and hearts to the new opportunities before you. Don’t feel that you have to wait to make a difference—start right away! You’re already making a difference by being here. Along with more than 30,000 Marywood alumni, you are now an important part of a legacy of progress that has prospered for nearly 100 years.

Our Centennial Celebration begins next year, on September 8, 2015, which is also the day that our Learning Commons will be dedicated. I am sure that you’ve noticed the construction in progress of our extraordinary Learning Commons in the heart of our campus. This cutting edge facility will be a major academic resource for your class and for the entire University. Each day, we are truly amazed as we watch the building pictured in the architectural renderings take shape before our eyes.

Members of the Class of 2018, I am so glad that you are here; I welcome you to be part of all that Marywood is and will become. It is time to grab hold of this moment of great opportunity! You arrived here with a “backstage pass” to Marywood; you will leave here taking the lead as the stars of the Class of 2018—be bold, and lead on! You have all that you need within you and the Marywood University community is proud to serve as your supporting cast! Enjoy these days, ask questions, claim your future and have fun!