Class of 2023: Find Community and Pursue Your Passion

At Convocation Saturday, 1,100 first-year and transfer students encouraged to get involved in research, student clubs and sports, and more

Students process to Convocation.
By Jill Rodrigues '05

BRISTOL, R.I. – As the incoming class officially began their college careers at Roger Williams University with the time-honored tradition of Convocation ceremony Saturday, RWU President Ioannis Miaoulis urged them to take advantage of the myriad educational opportunities, make lifelong friendships with their new peers, and form deep bonds with faculty members.

“Learn a second language and study abroad. Become a Civic Scholar – one of our signature programs at RWU. Get to know your faculty, and engage in undergraduate research and interdisciplinary projects,” President Miaoulis told the new freshmen and transfer students. “Lastly, build lifelong friendships. Your life partner may be sitting next to you right now, your best friend for life that you haven’t met yet may be sitting behind you. Meet students from different states, countries, and races and learn from them and their experiences.”

After concluding his first week as president of RWU, President Miaoulis welcomed 1,100 students and hundreds of family members to Roger Williams University at Convocation, noting that they all share in common being new to the university.

“You are first-year students at RWU, and I’m a first-year President,” he joked. “I am honored to be a member of your entering class. We are now all Hawks!”

Among many distinctions, the Class of 2023 is larger than last year’s class and is the most diverse of any incoming class, comprised of talented scholars, musicians, athletes, and social justice advocates.

Convocation 2019

The Convocation ceremony formally marks their entrance into “RWU’s learning community,” said Vice Provost Robert Shea, and with that the responsibility of being a good community member. During their first week at RWU, the students will have many opportunities to bond together and get to know their new community through Feinstein Community Connections Day, when the entire freshman class deploys around the region to perform community service, and the month-long program of student events in Weeks of Welcome.

"While we learn together, we’re also in the process of building community and caring about one another. This is hard work that requires patience, humility and honesty,” Vice Provost Shea said. “The call to community requires all of us to listen to and understand each other, to welcome and value all expressions of diversity and identity, and to respect and value the dignity of each individual.”

As Student Senate President, Chris Costa shared his experience of finding his community and path at RWU.

“You’ve chosen a university where you can truly be yourself and be confident that you will find a place to fit in and feel at home, no matter how far from home you may be,” said Costa, an Economics major. “Roger is a place where you have so many options and opportunities to explore and truly find your passions and interests and be the person you really want to be.”

Costa encouraged students to get involved in social justice-minded clubs and organizations, athletics and intramural sports, music and the arts, or groups with which they share similar communities and identities.

“No matter what your background, nationalities, interests or values, there are people, places, and communities on this campus that share them, and you can be confident that you’re in a place that’s not only safe to be yourself but it’s encouraged,” Costa said. “Take a step out of your comfort zone and pursue your interests.”