Trinity College’s 194th Academic Year Declared Under Way at President’s Convocation

Joanne Berger-Sweeney Challenges Class of 2021 to Embrace Differences, Help Create a Just Community

​Hartford, Connecticut, September 1, 2017—With words of welcome to the members of the Class of 2021 and a few pieces of advice to students and their families, Trinity College’s 194th academic year was declared under way during the President’s Convocation on Thursday, August 31. Tim Cresswell, dean of the faculty and vice president for academic affairs and professor of American studies, said, “From this moment forward, we will vigorously engage each other in the challenging, fascinating, and pleasurable process of liberal arts education.”

​President Joanne Berger-Sweeney leads the traditional lemonade toast to Trinity College and the Class of 2021.
To honor the occasion and to salute the first-year students who had gathered ’neath the elms on the Main Quad, President Joanne Berger-Sweeney led a traditional lemonade toast to Trinity and the Class of 2021.

In her address, Berger-Sweeney said that the start of the academic year inspires her anew and keeps her focused on the future. “I hope you all feel inspired, too. Because we have a lot of work to do together,” she said to the students. “What is that work? Embracing differences, engaging across divides, listening with empathy, and, most importantly, seeing each other’s humanity. That’s the hard work of evolving as a just community, and that is the charge I impart to each and every one of you on this momentous day.

“This work toward progress, toward the Trinity we want to be and the example we want to set for the world, will happen in your classrooms, in your residence halls, on the playing fields and in dining halls, in the city of Hartford, and on your Trinity journeys around the world. It demands your persistence and your resilience, your inquiry, and your intellect,” Berger-Sweeney said. “I know you are up to the challenge.”

​Vice President for Enrollment and Student Success Angel B. Pérez presents the Class of 2021.
During his presentation of the Class of 2021, Angel B. Pérez, vice president for enrollment and student success, told the students, “You have arrived exactly where you are meant to be. You were hand-picked during one of the College’s most selective years in our history.” He said that the new students entering Trinity include 586 first-year students, 18 transfer students, eight Individualized Degree Program (IDP) students, and five exchange students from France and Hungary.

The class, Pérez said, represents the greatest amount of geographic diversity in Trinity’s history. In addition to students coming from all over the country, the class has both a record number of students from the city of Hartford and a record number of international students. “I should also mention that our domestic diversity is also historic,” Pérez said. “You are part of the class with the highest number of students of color and the highest number of students who are first in their family to go to college. Of course, I don’t want to forget to mention that, for the second year in a row, Trinity has more women than men in the first-year class.”

Pérez said that the students have a duty and a responsibility to live up to the extraordinary potential that Trinity saw in them. “In your applications, you told us that you want to use your education to have an impact on the world, and I know you will spend the next four years learning how to do just that,” he said.  

On behalf of the faculty, Jennifer Regan-Lefebvre, secretary of the faculty and associate professor of history, encouraged the students to embrace the liberal arts and to examine issues through the lenses of many different fields of study. To illustrate this, she spoke about how she and her undergraduate college roommate were wearing the same outfit when they first met, and how the meaning of clothing can be explored from the perspectives of history, sociology, fine arts, engineering, and much more.

​New students were welcomed to Trinity College during the President's Convocation on August 31. Photos by John Marinelli
 In her welcome to the new students, Student Government Association President Emily H. Claytor ’18 offered advice by reading a letter addressed to her younger self filled with things she wishes she had known during her first year at Trinity. Taking advantage of every opportunity offered to you can lead to unexpected and rewarding experiences, she said. “Believe me when I say you will surprise yourself,” Claytor said. “Be yourself and everything will fall into place.”

First-year mentor Mallika Khanna ’18 welcomed the Class of 2021 by telling them about some Trinity traditions, including the lemon squeezer used for the lemonade toast. Another tradition—a performance of the alma mater, “’Neath the Elms,” by The Trinity College Chapel Singers—concluded the ceremony, which was followed by a family barbecue on the Gates Quad.

Written by Andrew J. Concatelli