‘Only one right way to be at Columbia … authentic.’

Marley Molkentin

By Miranda Manier, Managing Editor

To a soundtrack of a pounding bass and cheers coming from a stage-side dance circle, freshmen and transfer students milled about Grant Park at New Student Convocation on Friday, dipping in and out of booths that offered henna tattoos, psychic readings and information about student organizations.

Paper fans waved in the air as students mingled and moshed, ringing in the new school year with an energy that had passersby on Michigan Avenue pausing to peer into the park. Around 70 student organizations gathered and various speakers and performers took the stage to share values, goals and words of encouragement with the new students, including President and CEO Kwang-Wu Kim, Manifest 2019 Song Winner Charlie Curtis-Beard and Student Government Association President Kierah King.

“I want to remind you that what’s really unique about you as a group is what you bring here,” Kim said. “You bring every possible way of being, way of thinking, experience, background—in other words, you represent the radical difference that is at the core of this institution.”

This year’s freshman class is the most diverse in Columbia’s history, as reported by The Chronicle on Aug. 14.

Orientation Leader Sara Dipaolo also spoke to new students, encouraging them to use Convocation to meet with organizations. Freshman creative writing major Amanda Daquila was looking forward to finding out more about these organizations.

“I was really excited coming to [Convocation],” Daquila said. “I’m really excited for the different clubs that I get to join and a variety of people I can meet in all different kinds of majors.”

Analea Harris, sophomore music major and orientation leader, remembers her Orientation as the time when she realized Columbia was the place she was meant to be.

“It’s cool to be on the other side and help students realize they’re in the right place,” Harris said. “[Convocation] is where everyone gets to come together and see friendships blossom and help people get where they’re going.”

Sophomore interdisciplinary arts major and transfer student Arya Woody is excited about Columbia because of the opportunities for collaborations. Kim reminded students that through collaboration, they can help Columbia become more welcoming and inclusive.

“We have an opportunity to become this fierce, forward-looking creative body,” Kim said. “I want all of you to constantly be reaching out, squeezing this place to get everything you want. There’s only one right way to be at Columbia College Chicago. And that is to be your most authentic self. I want you to remember that.”