Applause, high fives and shouts of “Welcome to PhilaU” by faculty and staff greeted new students and their family members as they streamed down the walkway to the Gallagher Athletic, Recreation and Convocation Center Aug. 18 for Convocation 2016.
“Make no mistake, you will work hard,” President Stephen Spinelli Jr. told students at the first official gathering of the Class of 2020 and—for five-year architecture students—the Class of 2021. “Philadelphia University’s professors will challenge you beyond any challenges you’ve faced before. Sometimes you’ll struggle and sometimes you’ll fail. That’s OK. You will learn and grow as individuals and as professionals and you will be prepared to be leaders in your industries. When you are alumni, you will be the role models for new students.”
One such alumnus described the impact PhilaU has had on his life. He shared the excitement of making new friends, NCAA appearances, CACC Championships and how Nexus Learning helped launch him into a successful career.
“I went to a University that comes second to none in preparing students for jobs and experiences they have never had before,” said Nicholas Christian ’14, now a senior operations auditor at Comcast. “I attended a University that has a 95 percent job success and graduate acceptance rate.”
Christian, an accounting major and four-year starter on the basketball team, said new students should be ready for the inevitable obstacles that will come their way and invoked the wisdom of one of the country’s greatest innovators.
“As you embark on this epic journey that is full of fear, resistance, faith and triumph, you must take with you the great words of Henry Ford, ‘When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind not with it,’” said Christian, who received a standing ovation from the audience.
Student Government Association President Naomi Sampat ’17 welcomed her new classmates by describing the many benefits of PhilaU.
“The campus culture is unlike any other,” she said. “Students are focused, ambitious, determined and unique. Philadelphia University is the breeding ground for all things innovative. The faculty, staff and administrators are highly invested in every student’s success and will help you get to the next level. Here at Philadelphia University, we are a team and a family, comprised of people who aren’t afraid to push the limits of innovation. We are always powered to do.”
Also at the ceremony, five Centennial Medals were presented to outstanding high school and college educators nominated by incoming PhilaU students. The annual awards were created in 1984 by the Board of Trustees to celebrate the University’s 100th anniversary.
The recipients honored at the ceremony include:
* Victoria Falasco, health sciences student, nominated Leah Lightcap, Spanish teacher at Archmere Academy in Claymont, Del.
* Alexa Giannini, fashion merchandising and management student, nominated Kathleen Ware, family and consumer science teacher at Shawnee High School in Medford, N.J.
* Elizabeth Lower, architectural engineering student, nominated Kitty Wittich, art teacher from Oley Valley High School in Bernville, Pa.
* Molly Pace, architecture student, nominated Paula Behrens, associate professor and department head of design technologies, Community College of Philadelphia
* Todd Sweeney, physician assistant studies student, nominated Anthony Rafaniello, music and performing arts teacher at Cranford High School in Cranford, N.J.
At the close of the ceremony, Spinelli took a final moment to wish the students well on their journey at PhilaU. “You are the new face of our great community,” he said, “and we look forward to seeing your future accomplishments year after year.”