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The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

Leaders welcome freshmen, emphasize service at convocation

University and officials celebrate convocation Saturday morning. Haelin Oh | Hatchet Photographer.
University and officials celebrate convocation Saturday morning. Haelin Oh | Hatchet Photographer.

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Janna Paramore.

The University formally welcomed the Class of 2020 at convocation in the Smith Center Saturday morning.

After the ceremony, freshmen participated in GW’s eighth annual Freshman Day of Service, where they completed community service at 44 sites with 39 organizations across all eight wards of D.C. and in neighboring Maryland and Virginia.

University President Steven Knapp, Provost Forrest Maltzman, other senior administrators and deans from each school attended the ceremony.

Here’s how University leaders kicked off a day of service and the freshman class’s college years:

1. Ceremonial bookends

Maltzman was the first speaker to welcome freshmen to the University. Maltzman called the convocation ceremony one of the two bookends for GW students, with the second being Commencement on the National Mall.

“The lessons I learned in college shaped who I am to this very day,” Maltzman said as he urged the Class of 2020 to seize any opportunities that are offered to them.

2. Continue to serve

Senior Sara Durrani, the president of the student organization Alternative Breaks, urged freshman to find ways to do service throughout college.

She said the time she spent doing community service shaped her experience as a student, and that freshmen had the chance to do the same.

“Today is a great opportunity to learn about your home here in D.C. and make community service a part of who you are,” Durrani said.

3. Reasons to reflect

Knapp shared that 9/11 Day, one of the organizations GW partnered with for Freshman Day of Service, also chose the reflection theme for this year’s day of service.

“Together Tomorrow: A Call for Empathy, Service, and Unity” is the theme freshmen will reflect on as they complete community service as a tribute to the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Knapp said.

Knapp read a letter he sent to the University in early July in which he called for “sustained” racial dialogue on campus. He said the letter and the theme for the day of service correspond.

“That premise is especially relevant at this moment in our history as we face not only what is arguably the most divisive national election in living memory, but are still reeling from tragic incidents that have so dramatically highlighted our differences and division in the past several years,” Knapp said.

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