New campus community comes together over Convocation

By Connor Carynski, News Editor

White balloons hanging in the air lead groups of newly acquainted students into the green fields of Grant Park. Students entered into South President’s Court as strangers and left with new friends and connections bound to last throughout their college careers.

After an orientation loaded with schedules and paperwork, students were given the opportunity to dance, meet peers and eat a free hot dog or two during the annual New Student Convocation Sept. 1.

Megan McGowan, senior cinema and television arts major and orientation leader, said many incoming students are concerned about finding new friends or getting involved on campus, so Convocation offers great opportunities for students to make connections and long-lasting friendships.

“Orientation is mostly just information,” McGowan said. “Making sure your schedules are done, making sure your finances are handled, so students don’t have a whole lot of time to talk to one another and make those connections you have here; also, we have all these fantastic booths for organizations.”

With help from Student Government Association and Student Organization Council, the Student Affairs Office coordinated the event, which came with tarot card readers, a henna tattoo stand and complementary hot dogs this year.

Ashley Hannah, a freshman photography major, said she was not expecting so many perks or people to be at Convocation and that she was able to meet many new friends at the event.

“I definitely like meeting the people, especially if we are from different majors so they can collaborate and help each other out,” Hannah said.

President and CEO Kwang-Wu Kim spoke on the event’s main stage, offering his guidance and wishing students a successful school year as thousands of bubbles floated through the air, coming from effects machines on stage.

Kim encouraged the crowd to explore and use the resources available on campus as well as in the city. He also took time to speak about the issues in the world at large.

“Right now, there is a lot of hatred in the world, but not at Columbia College Chicago,” Kim said. “That is not tolerated, that is not part of who we are, that is not what we believe in, it is not what we stand for, and it is not what we are ever going to become.”

Kim said the best way students can uphold Columbia’s discrimination-free ideal is to reach out to one another, meet new people every day and create a sense of community.

Other speakers included Sarah Shaaban, director of Student Organizations; Malik Woolfork, SGA President and senior business and entrepreneurship major; and Raquel Monroe, Faculty Senate president and associate professor in the Dance Department.

Student and alumni performers also took the stage. Performances by 2017 music alumna Juiix, the Rated E! Dance Team, the band Capital Soiree and student ensembles provided entertainment.

Kelsie Johnson, who goes by JuiiX on stage, said performing her own set for Convocation after only participating in supplemental roles at previous Convocations was an amazing experience.

“People were telling me it was awesome because [their] freshman year [they] saw me perform and now [their] senior year [they] are seeing me perform,” Johnson said.

Kim said he and his staff are excited about the school year and look forward to seeing student accomplishments throughout the semester.

“This place is all about being creative, being ambitious and having a dream of doing something that fundamentally changes the world; that’s why you’re here and that’s why we’re here,” Kim said.