Wearing the bold colors of their residential colleges and waving WashU pennants, the 1,826 members of the Washington University in St. Louis Class of 2026 converged Saturday, Aug. 27, in Brookings Quadrangle for the annual Convocation ceremony, one of the university’s most beloved (and loudest) traditions.
The festivities, now hosted a week after the new class’ arrival, featured inspirational speeches, a party in Tisch Park with food, fireworks and cheering … lots and lots of cheering. Families were invited to virtually view the ceremony. Here, the Record shares the sights and sounds of the evening.
The alligators of Thomas H. Eliot Residential College chanted, “We will, we will chomp you, chomp you” while the Wayman Crow crows (pictured) did the wave and the Brookings Bees strutted to their seats with their first-place trophy from last spring’s Residential College Olympics. (Photo: Whitney Curtis/Washington University) “Learn to find joy in the process. While it’s important to celebrate milestones — the beginnings and endings — it’s what happens in between that is the real magic. The spark of curiosity that makes your heart race, the hardwon breakthroughs that set you on an exciting new course, the debate and collaboration and camaraderie with teammates. When you are WashU alumni looking back on these years, those are the moments that will mean the most.” – Chancellor Andrew D. Martin (Photo: Sid Hastings/Washington University) “You, individually and collectively, are exceptional. First-year students, your class is the most diverse in the 169-year history of Washington University.” – Ronné Turner, vice provost for admissions and financial aid (Photo: Sid Hastings/Washington University) University leaders (from left) Chancellor Andrew D. Martin; Provost Beverly Wendland; Anna Gonzalez, vice chancellor for student affairs; and Ronné Turner, vice provost for admissions and financial aid, show off their flair for fancy footwear. (Photo: Sid Hastings/Washington University) “I won’t have my voice on the first day of class, but it will totally be worth it,” said Washington University Student Associate Kevin O’Neill as he led the Brooking Bees from Brookings Residential College in cheers. (Photo: Whitney Curtis/Washington University) Ronné Turner, vice provost for admissions and financial aid, presented Anna Gonzalez, vice chancellor for student affairs, with a scroll emblazoned with the names of all new students. (Photo: Sid Hastings/Washington University) “Your time at WashU happens to coincide with that of so many talented peers of so many backgrounds and experiences. And you happen to be at this university at a special moment in our history, as we seek to make huge strides in increasing student access and academic distinction. I urge you to appreciate and make the most of this awesome coincidence.” – Provost Beverly Wendland (Photo: Sid Hastings/Washington University) “One of the first difficulties I encountered as a freshman was a tension between that crude binary of whether to ‘work’ or to ‘play.’ Now, make no mistake: you are here primarily to work and to study. But I implore you not to slip into the mentality that you are here to learn only through studying. Full development at WashU will require you to make meaningful communal connections.” – Student speaker Jacob Leon, a senior studying political science in Arts & Sciences. (Photo: Whitney Curtis/Washington University) Among Washington University’s newest students — the builder of the first sustainable artificial reef, the CEO of a foundation, a Tik Tok charity influencer, a cadet in the Royal Air Force and the No. 1-ranked badminton player.
“We are from 1,223 different high schools from around the world. We are from 48 states, D.C, Puerto Rico and 27 countries,” Gonzalez told the crowd. “We really hope to see you next year, South Dakota and Vermont!” (Photo: Whitney Curtis/Washington University)