Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

The start of something great: StFX welcomes the Class of 2023 to a community like no other

August 31st, 2019
Smiles were contagious as the O-Crew welcomed first year students onto campus during Welcome Day 2019

The smiles, and energy, were absolutely contagious as new students and their families stepped onto the StFX campus on Saturday, Aug. 31 for Welcome Day 2019. Music pumped, members of the student Orientation Crew—O-Crew for short—cheered and sang, and staff and faculty were out in full force to welcome the Class of 2023 to campus—including StFX President Dr. Kevin Wamsley, who personally greeted everyone who arrived onto campus.

The message? Welcome to the Xaverian community—it’s going to be a great year ahead! 

“It’s so welcoming, it’s been great,” says Patricia O’Callaghan of Scarborough, ON, who was helping her daughter, first year student Clara O’Callaghan, register and get settled. 

“It’s very good, very organized and very relaxing,” said Clara, a humanities colloquium student who decided to attend StFX because of its academic program and the vibrant community. “I liked how small it is and that you can get to know your professors. I think that will really improve my studies. I also really liked the humanities colloquium,” she says.

Pàdruig MacDonald of Miramichi, NB, a fluent Gaelic speaker who is starting in the computer science program, said he is very excited as he has always wanted to go to StFX. Both his parents, Ellen (Doyle) MacDonald and Goiridh Dòmhnullach, are alumni, and both had great things to say about their own experiences. 

The values of the university also lined up with his own, including the camaraderie inherent in the community and the focus on helping one another.  

Another first year student, Yuhao He Erwin of China, who will take sociology, says he had heard about StFX in high school and was drawn by the X community, and the coastline. He says his experience so far has been great. “Everybody’s been very kind. They’ve told me the must-dos at StFX and invited me to join the international society.”

“The people are so helpful, they’re so energetic,” agrees Yagmur Var, a first year engineering student from Turkey who spent the past year of high school in Nova Scotia on exchange. She says she decided to apply to StFX after coming for a campus visit. “I really liked the campus and the engineering program.”

PERSONAL GREETING

New students and their families met StFX President Dr. Kevin Wamsley, who personally greeted each and everyone as they made their way into the Keating Centre, into a showcase designed to introduce first year students to StFX, make them feel welcome in their new home, and provide the information they need for their time at university. 

Several ‘Family and Friends Information Sessions’ were held throughout the day at the Keating Centre, while the Auxiliary Arena served as a StFX Services Showcase with information booths on over 30 student services and activities with faculty and staff on hand to chat and answer questions. 

Stationed all around campus, from forming a welcome tunnel at the Keating Centre to greeting outside residences, members of the O-Crew cheered as people drove into StFX, played ice breaker games with students waiting in line, answered questions, and helped people move in. The upper year students provide much support to first year students, who often arrive a bit nervous, not sure where they’re going, and perhaps a little scared. Seeing how comfortable and how much fun these students are having helps ease the transition. 

Sodexo provided amazing food throughout the day, including Chef Mike Pollock’s famed seafood chowder, as students moved into residence, picked up their student IDs, and took part in a formal President’s Welcome. 

COMMUNITY LIKE NO OTHER

“The day’s finally here. You’ve arrived. It’s a great pleasure to welcome you to StFX,” Dr. Wamsley told students during the President’s Welcome.

“We are so happy you chose StFX over all the other universities in the world,” he said. 

“You chose us for our outstanding professors, our outstanding staff, our unique community residential atmosphere, our small class size because professors and staff will know your name, because you will have incredible leadership and service opportunities, because we will give you the tools to make a difference in this world – StFX is community like no other.” 

Just as StFX is committing to helping each of its students, Dr. Wamsley also reminded the incoming class that part of the responsibility lies with them—to get involved in the community, to look out for each and to respect each other. 

“We must care for each other,” he said to long applause.

He also told the students to not be afraid to speak out to their academic advisors, their professors and university staff if they need help. “That’s part of the deal…because we are here to help.  

“We are thrilled that you are here.” 

“We will be there to help you as you embark on this adventure. We have the same goal as you. We are committed to your academic success and providing the best undergraduate experience,” StFX Academic Vice-President & Provost Dr. Tim Hynes said as he added his warm welcome to all. 

“We understand and take very seriously the onus of responsibility that we as faculty and staff have. You can be assured we are up for the task of providing you with that transformational opportunity, that transformation experience that we often describe as the StFX experience.” 

“You should have no doubt about one thing: each and everyone of you has the ability to succeed at StFX,” Dr. Hynes said as he told students not to worry if they have butterflies in their stomach about starting a new experience. That’s normal. 

“You have already proven you are the type of student we’re looking for at StFX,” he said. 

Success, however, is not a given. It comes as a result of effort, sacrifice and commitment. It will be a challenge but very much doable, Dr. Hynes said. 

Students’ Union president Cecil VanBuskirk also welcomed the incoming class to the “start of some of the best years of your life.”

He reiterated the Students’ Union and all StFX are here to make your StFX experience valuable and life changing. “We want your StFX experience to be as incredible for you as it is for us,” he said.  

Like previous speakers, he also encouraged the freshmen class to contribute their opinions, their ideas, their whole self to their StFX experience. Together, we thrive, he said. 

Emma Kuzmyk, StFX Students’ Union vice president academic, served as emcee. 

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