Read, Convocation 2014

Convocation 2014

My welcome address to the incoming Penn Class of 2018:

Good Evening Class of 2018 and Transfer Students!!!

As dean of admissions I am proud to finally see all of you together on Penn’s beautiful campus on the evening before the first day of classes. Don’t worry. You know how to be a student, it is what you have been doing your entire life. Of course college should and will be different.

Whether you are an Early Decision admit, Regular Decision Admit or like KYLIE–a leader of the Penn Band who tells me to be good to the WL Students–a proud admit from the wait-list. Know that each one of you earned your spot into Penn for YOUR PROMISE and POTENTIAL as a student and community member—PENN would not be the same without you!

The script is not yet written on your time at Penn. For those of you who know exactly what you want to be in your life, congratulations. I graduated in 1987 and still don’t have a clear answer to that question. In fact it is the unknown and promise of each day that motivates me to do my very best as a father, husband, friend, and as dean, even when my calendar is full and expectations are always high. In these moments, I try to stay balanced, take care of myself and lean on those around me.

Life is not perfect and we don’t expect or want you to try to be perfect. I often reflect on the extraordinary experiences I had at Penn—loving my history classes, meeting my best friends as a sprint football player, hearing my favorite a Capella groups, cheering on my classmates to Ivy Championships, listening to great music throughout Philadelphia, and yes, playing hard at Spring Fling and Hey Day…

But I also remember the challenging times and making it through those moments—would I be lost, thinking back on Hemingway, or was I going to be resilient without truly knowing what that meant at the time…

I remember self-doubt on why I was admitted to Penn during NSO as the only person from my high school

The Sun Also Rises

I remember questioning my academic preparation with my first writing assignments and a grade of C in a history seminar

The Sun Also Rises

I remember feeling  socially isolated when I moved to 44th Street my sophomore year

The Sun Also Rises

I remember the fear of falling behind after I had an emergency surgery my junior year

The Sun Also Rises

I remember the deepest sadness when Chris, a close family friend from home, was lost in a fatal car accident

The Sun Also Rises

I also remember how proud my parents were on graduation day at Franklin Field and when I received a job offer in Penn’s Office of Admissions

The Sun Also Rises Class of 2018 and Transfers: Please know how proud the entire Penn family is of the great promise and potential within all of you.

Look to your classmates around you tonight; Think of the faculty, Resident Advisors, College House Staff, the Cultural Resource Centers, and so many others as your support network.

Penn would not be the same without you. Take care of yourself. Take care of one another.

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