When the president of Clark University requests that you roar, there really is only one appropriate response.
And the Class of 2027 nailed it.
Inside a packed Kneller Center gymnasium on Move-In Day, President David Fithian ’87 urged Clark’s newest students to greet the moment with a communal roar by unleashing their voices in a way “that will blow the roof off this place.” The high-voltage cheers, applause, and whistles that followed carried through on the energy of a day that began with the move into residence halls, meeting roommates, and exploring the campus— early, important steps into the 2023–24 academic year.
In his welcome remarks to the students and their families, President Fithian urged students to take advantage of the many opportunities that present themselves over the course of a Clark career. “Take an active role in creating your life here, and don’t just let things happen to you,” he said. Full participation in the vibrant Clark community is an experience “you should take something from and give something of yourself to.”
The president encouraged students to approach with an open and inquisitive mind the many different viewpoints they will encounter during their time at Clark. Be thoughtful and civil in expressing disagreement, he counseled, and seek to understand those perspectives that stand in opposition to your own.
Fithian reminded the students that they inevitably will experience moments of uncertainty — that they will make mistakes and poor choices. Never let the fear of making a wrong decision prevent you from embracing your full potential, he said, “and never for a moment allow yourself to think you don’t belong here.”
“Understand that college is about finding your voice and what matters most to you,” he said. “Be the agent of your own change. Take charge of the project that is you.”
Student Council President Sammi Bosque ’24 acknowledged that the first-year students may be feeling overwhelmed on their first day.
“This might be your first big change,” she said. “As it is said, time and time again, even in the Barbie movie, change is scary. Change is sudden, new, unpredictable. It’s strange. But I’m here to tell you that change is your first college best friend. Change is the biggest constant of your life.”
She recalled there was a time, not long ago, when she could not have imagined herself as a leader in college, but “I changed the way I saw myself in a leadership role when I realized I didn’t need to be the same as everyone else. I had to be okay knowing I didn’t have it all figured out and know all the answers.”
Change is inevitable, but not something to be feared if you remain true to yourself, Bosque insisted.
“You are already the person you want to be,” she told the newest Clarkies. “You just need to embrace it.”
Provost Sebastián Royo asked the Class of 2027 to engage fully in the college experience, whether that’s in the classroom, on campus, in the city, or beyond. “Please do not stay in your rooms, and forget your freakin’ phones!” he urged with a grin, drawing applause from the audience.
There will be times when college will be hard, he said. Persistence in the face of challenge, is key.
“Learning is hard,” Royo said. “We want you to work hard, and study as much as can. We are here every step of the way to help and support you, and to ensure you have the best possible experience.”
Clark students need to be engaged citizens, upholding the values of fairness, justice, individual worth, acceptance, and academic excellence while standing strongly against hatred, bigotry, racism, and violence, he said.
Ultimately, Royo said, three simple tenets should drive a Clark student: Can do. Will do. Won’t quit.
In her welcome to the Class of 2027, Kamala Kiem, associate provost for student success and dean of students, noted that the students “are in the driver’s seat of the next stage of your life.” She addressed the families in the audience, and the pride they were feeling. Each first-year student, she said, is a “product of your life’s work — the sacrifice, the time, and the love.”
Motioning to the Clark faculty, staff, and students gathered inside the Kneller for the ceremony, she added, “Consider us a part of the team you’ve assembled to support them.”