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August 17, 2012

Hargis greets largest freshman class ever at OSU convocation

STILLWATER, Okla. — The sounds of the Oklahoma State University Pipe and Drum Corps welcomed incoming freshmen at the new student convocation in Gallagher-Iba Arena Friday.

“It’s an honor and a privilege to greet the largest freshman class in the history of OSU,” OSU President Burns Hargis said.

He said that while the final numbers are not in, he believes the incoming freshmen constitute the largest freshman class in the history of the state.

Provost Robert Sternberg spoke to the students, giving them 10 pieces of advice as they start their college journey. He advised students to be the person students said they would be on their application.

“None of you said you would cheat on tests or papers or take drugs or drink to excess or be rowdy or goof off whenever you could,” Sternberg said. “So, we’re really impressed with the people we admitted and we hope to see the people we admitted be the people here.”

Other advice included to never compromise integrity or honor, get to know the faculty, persevere, get involved in the life of the university, find a balance and get involved in research.

“This is your chance in college to really learn something that excites you,” Sternberg said.

He left students with his final piece of advice — to ask for help if needed.

“Oklahoma State has lots of resources to help you if things go wrong in your work or your personal life,” Sternberg said.

Hargis introduced Andrew Gray, a graduate of Putnam City High School and OSU student, who is majoring in strategic communications with minors in leadership and international studies.

“While the time we spend in the classroom is valuable, it is how we take the knowledge we learn in our classrooms and apply it to our life that truly help us learn the broader lessons of life,” Gray said.

He spoke of Pencils of Promise, a nonprofit organization that builds schools in Third World countries for children without access to education. Gray heard of the program while a senior in high school. Gray is in his second year as a campus engagement intern for Pencils of Promise, which he founded at Oklahoma State University in his freshman year. He encouraged freshmen to get involved with programs or to create them.

“Because of my involvement with Pencils of Promise, I now know exactly what I want to do with my life — fundraising in the nonprofit sector,” Gray said.

Gray finished by saying he didn’t believe success was defined by a diploma, a GPA or a long resume.

“I believe success is defined by how big of a smile you have on your face and how excited you are for the next day of learning when you go to bed at night,” Gray said. “So, I hope you will challenge yourselves to expand your learning beyond the classroom.”

Another student, senior Cortez Downey, spoke to the freshmen class. Downey is a double major in biological science and Spanish. He is a resident of Edmond.

He told those in attendance that they have probably heard these will be the best years of their life. However, unlike the times they have been told that before, such as in high school, this time it is true, he said.

“There are many of you that were probably told you would love high school and that it would be so much fun; that you would make so many friends and great memories, that you would never want it to end,” Downey said. “I’m also just as certain that there’s an equal number of you, that for some reason or another, couldn’t be happier to have high school behind you.”

He said the students will love and cherish every moment at OSU if they make it happen. He spoke of things he learned as a senior.

“First, know why you’re here,” Downey said. “Recognize that your primary goal should be to obtain an education that rivals all others; an education that will better prepare you for whatever endeavor you choose to pursue beyond your undergraduate studies.”

He told students to create their life.

“Don’t feel obligated to live life the same way you have for the last 18 or 19 years,” he said.

The convocation finished with Hargis speaking on how OSU became a land grant university, of Old Central and of OSU’s first graduating class of six.

“With your class, the combined student population of Oklahoma State is 36,000 students, the largest in the state of Oklahoma,” Hargis said.

Hargis reminded students of the alumni and their impact on not only the nation, but the world.

“Our goal is to serve our community, our state, the nation and the world and we do that through training great students,” Hargis said.

Following the event, freshman Sara Linn, majoring in agricultural education, said she is looking forward to meeting new people and becoming a part of the agricultural department. Another freshman, Cameron Williamson, majoring in architecture, said he’s hopeful for what he can achieve at the university

“I just liked how the students talked to us about the things they wished they would have done; just kind of learning from a firsthand example,” Williamson said. “You can really relate to someone who is close to your own age.”

Like the other thousands of students, Williamson starts school on Monday.

Hargis left the thousands in attendance with one last message.

“Good luck,” Hargis said. “It will be an exciting journey. And together, we can make our dreams come true.”

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