Incoming freshmen herded into the Performing Arts Center for an official welcome to the campus community from University President Sabah Randhawa and Associated Students President Stephanie Cheng on Tuesday, Sept. 20 at Convocation.
Joining Randhawa and Cheng on the mic for the annual welcoming convocation were Vice President Eileen Coughlin and Dean of Students Ted Pratt.
“I hope you say yes to as many learning experiences as possible, even if it’s uncomfortable,” Randhawa said. “I hope you can engage and step outside of your comfort zone to meet new people, make new friends and have new adventures.”
“Lean into moments when you feel uncomfortable, because that’s when you will learn the most.”
Randhawa continued to say that he could relate to the incoming students’ nervousness, having recently transferred to his position at Western after serving as provost and executive vice president at Oregon State University.
The theme of embracing discomfort, challenging oneself and engaging carried on through the night.
“Lean into moments when you feel uncomfortable, because that’s when you will learn the most,” Cheng said.
Pratt introduced the idea that with fear comes self discovery.
“Every discussion you’re going to have with friends, colleagues and professors and every late night study group is an opportunity for you to redefine your worldview and your perception of who you are in this world,” Pratt said. “That can be terrifying, but also really exciting. It is where true education happens.”
Some freshmen were leaving convocation inspired, excited and slightly worried.
Freshman Liam Schehl is afraid of being unable to prioritize things and not changing enough as a person.
However, he is still hopeful.
“I’m looking forward to setting myself up for a lifetime of knowledge in a career I’ll potentially be super interested in,” Schehl said.
Although freshman Sophia Fuller is worried about handling a college course load, she looks forward to exploring Bellingham and meeting new people.
“I hope to take away new perspectives, a new way of thinking about things and new friends,” Fuller said.