Calvin kicks off new year with convocation
Dozens of faculty members and hundreds of students representing 23 countries gathered together Tuesday morning to celebrate a new academic year at Calvin College, energize the incoming Class of 2017 and boost returning students.
“It’s not a commencement, but a convocation,” provost Claudia Beversluis explained in her last welcoming speech as provost. Beversluis’ term ends in June and President Michael Le Roy announced plans to form a search committee Monday.
“This event anticipates the future we are building together,” said Beversluis.
Year after year, the diverse student body with a wide range of majors and minors joins in company with the academically excellent professors dressed in their flamboyantly colorful robes.
“We dress up … in the symbol of the academies. The robes say something about where we went to school, what grades we got and what we studied,” said Beversluis.
Chaplain Mary Hulst added some humor to the tradition of robes in her Facebook post late Monday night, writing, “just for a short time we can all imagine that we are at Hogwarts … bring your wands.”
Similar to the procession of robed professors, the student population was represented in ceremony through a fleet of international students.
Two-by-two, they filed down the center aisle carrying the flags of the world. Among these students was senior Da Sol Yang.
“It’s my duty,” she said. “I’m one of few Paraguayans here at Calvin and I proudly represent my country.”
Yang said she attended convocation because “it gives us a time to appreciate what opportunities we’ve been given in life.”
“You were born into privilege — and with privilege comes great responsibility,” Hulst said to the student body.
Only 3 percent of the world’s population has the opportunity to enroll in college education in the United States, Hulst explained. “This [education] is a great privilege and we are grateful for it,” she said.
In the coming year, students of Calvin are challenged to appreciate this privilege and remember that “each day is an investment,” as Le Roy said. “Each day, each moment, each hour.”
According to sophomore Jerry Grieser, “convocation is a time for all students, new and old, to connect with the leaders of the school.”
“It’s a time for freshmen to feel like they belong and to know what is going on in the bigger picture of the school,” said Grieser, who is on the cabinet of student senate.
But convocation is not just for the benefit of the students. Geography professor Jason VanHorn said, “Gathering is an exciting time for a community, even professors. There’s so much excitement and energy about coming back together and starting a new year.”
“For as God sent Jesus into a broken world … God also sends you to the project of renewing that same world,” Le Roy concluded his speech.