‘Welcome home:’ Class of 2025 celebrates Convocation

Students gather in Brookings Quadrangle for 2021 Convocation.
Students gather in Brookings Quadrangle for 2021 Convocation. (All photos: James Byard/Washington University)

The 1,994 members of the Washington University in St. Louis Class of 2025 may still be new to one another, campus and St. Louis. And still, Convocation in Brookings Quadrangle on Saturday, Aug. 28, served as a homecoming.

“We are St. Louis. We are Bears. We are WashU. We are home,” announced Anna Gonzalez, vice chancellor for student affairs, who joined the university in July and was celebrating her own first Convocation.

“Welcome home,” added Chancellor Andrew D. Martin. “As we gather this evening, from wherever you have come, and whatever mixed emotions you may be feeling tonight, I want you all to know that you belong here.

First-year students, dressed in the colors of their residential colleges, listen to Chancellor Andrew D. Martin at Convocation in Brookings Quadrangle.

Typically, students celebrate Convocation on move-in day in the Athletic Complex surrounded by family members. But this year, in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the university changed both the timing and location of the event. Family members, who enjoyed a welcome celebration on Mudd Field Aug. 21, watched a live feed of Convocation, sending well wishes and heart emojis in the chat. 

Here are some more words of wisdom from Convocation speakers.

Students from William Greenleaf Eliot Residential College (left) and Brookings Residential College cheer at Convocation.

There’s so much energy in this quad tonight, but I want us to all pause, just for a little bit. Think for a moment about the people who brought you to this moment, the people who made this day possible. Picture them, thank them, feel them in your heart. Take that gratitude you feel and carry it forward.

— Provost Beverly Wendland

Anna Gonzalez, vice chancellor for student affairs, welcomes cheering students in Brookings Quadrangle.

We accepted you — your own original story — and not just the Instagram, Facebook (I know I’m old school) or paparazzi version of you. You are more than the limited characters of social media. And that you will hopefully come to appreciate that your individual story makes up the collective narrative of who WashU is. Your chapter completes the WashU book.

— Anna Gonzalez, vice chancellor for student affairs

Chancellor Andrew D. Martin, along with Provost Beverly Wendland (right) and Anna Gonzalez, vice chancellor for student affairs (center), leads a procession of residential college faculty fellows and university deans to the Brookings Quadrangle stage.

Commit tonight to doing your part to make this a safe place for others to explore new ideas and take intellectual risks. After all, that’s what we’re here for. That’s how your classmates will reach their potential. That’s how you will reach yours. That’s how you can make the most of this opportunity you’ve all earned. That’s how you will change the world — together.

— Chancellor Andrew D. Martin

Shubham Tayal, a senior in Arts & Sciences, urges students to live their story.

Now, as new additions to the WashU family, WashU’s role is not to tell you what to do next but to help guide you as you write the next chapter of your story the way you want it to unfold. Because there’s no set path to being successful in life. We all just happened to take the same first step by coming here.

Shubham Tayal, senior and student speaker

The sun sets over Brookings Quadrangle.

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