SIU administrators, faculty welcome new students during fall semester convocation


Class photo for the class of 2022, Friday, Aug. 17, 2018, during the New Student Welcome event at the SIU Arena. (Nick Knappenburger)

By Brian Munoz, Staff Reporter

Hundreds of new students filed into the SIU Arena as the sunlight bounced off of the building, highlighting “Go Southern Go” emblazoned on the building’s front. With a welcome from campus administrators and faculty, new students began the next chapter of their lives.

Chatter among freshmen filled the arena leading up to their official introduction to the university.

Mackenzie Smith, a freshman studying elementary education from Carbondale, said she was looking forward to being at the university.


“I’m looking forward to learning what I’m going to school for and excited to be at SIU — it just seems like a really fun school,” Smith said.

Events like the pep rally have been a highlight for Smith’s time at the university so far.

“It’s been so great,” Smith said. “I’ve met so many great people and doing events like this have been amazing.”

Hannah Combs, a freshman from Champaign studying cinema and photography, said she is looking forward to learning more about her anticipated career field but there are certain things she’s going to miss from home.

“I miss being [around] my family and my pets,” Combs said.

As the room fell dark, the video board went through various prompts having the new students interact with each other by flashing their cell phone’s lights.

Laughter filled the air as students flashed their cell phone’s lights on each other.


Dozens of faculty in regalia filed in as well as the deans for the university’s eight colleges.

SIU Chancellor Carlo Montemagno walked up to the speaker’s podium, with the help of a walker, to welcome Southern’s newest class. The chancellor announced he had been diagnosed with cancer in late June.

Montemagno said it’s important to be involved at the university.

“We want you to learn by doing — by getting involved in research, creative activities and student organizations,” Montemagno said. “We want you to be successful — that’s paramount to our mission.”  

Montemagno said the students should have fun during their college years and the importance of meeting new people.

Laughter and smiles filled the arena after Montemagno instructed the students to introduce themselves to the people around them.

Interim Provost Meera Komarraju mirrored the chancellor’s statements and gave various pieces of advice to the Class of 2022.  Her number one piece of advice — ”go to class.”

Komarraju also recommended students go and introduce themselves to their professors.

“Let them know that you are interested in what they’re teaching and what you’re learning,” Komarraju said. “Our professors are very eager to serve as your mentors — get to know them.”

Toussaint Mitchell, Undergraduate Student Government president, said he encouraged the new student class to be grateful despite whatever flaws they may encounter at the university or in their lives.

“Don’t let any of these flaws hinder your success,” Mitchell said. “You need to stay focused on what you want to achieve, which is the bigger picture.”

DeAnna Price, 2016 Olympian and SIU Alumna, presented the keynote during the welcome.

Recalling her time at the university, Price painted the new students a picture of her achievements and her experience while in school.

“When I took my first steps on campus, it felt like home,” Price said. “The vibrant life and strength of campus calling my name… I knew this was it.”

As Price recalled her memories while at Southern, students could expect to make countless memories during their time at the university.

“I’m looking forward to spending a really good four years here,” Smith said. “Just lots of fun and creating new memories.”

Staff reporter Brian Munoz can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @BrianMMunoz.

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