Charles Nailen/The Hoya University President John J. DeGioia told students that they were among one one-hundreth of one percent of the world’s population fortunate enough to attend an American research university.

None of the 1,700-plus students in McDonough Gymnasium on Sunday were officers of Georgetown clubs. Few knew the ins and outs of campus; many hadn’t even learned the fight song. They were just new students.

But Sunday’s New Student Academic Convocation, a welcoming ceremony for incoming students, introduced them to a different side of Georgetown as told by speakers including the president, the provost, faculty and students.

“We upperclassmen remember sitting where you are,” GUSA President Brian Morgenstern (COL ’05) said. “We are thrilled for you, and, frankly, we are a little jealous.”

Provost James J. O’Donnell explained the breakdown of the new class.

“Forty five percent of you are men and 55 percent of you are not,” O’Donnell said. “You represent 49 states and 37 countries,” he said.

O’Donnell reminded students and their parents that the class would spend $49.13 million annually on tuition and fees, he said.

“On behalf of everyone on stage, thank you,” O’Donnell joked.

Still, he pointed out that the university gave $10.3 million in scholarship to the incoming class.

“On behalf of everyone on stage, you’re welcome,” he added.

In its eighth year, convocation is like a formal rite of passage for new students entering the Georgetown community. At the ceremony, students, clad in traditional black graduation robes, participate by reciting the university’s honor pledge and listen to speakers giving advice.

“Georgetown is not shackled to its past, it is the future. It is for you,” Kathryn-Ann Bloomfield (MSB ’04) said. She was the recipient of the 2003 Thomas P. McTighe Prize which includes giving the student address at convocation.

Bloomfield advised students to take advantage of the opportunities available at Georgetown.

“Register for a class with that professor you saw on C-SPAN, go abroad to realize that you can escape Georgetown and see Georgetown through a new perspective when you return,” she said.

Dr. Bernhard H. Liese, a professional lecturer in the School of Nursing and Health Studies who has spent 25 years working with the World Bank and international health issues, encouraged students to leave their comfort zone.

“Some people say they will cross their bridges when they come to them,” Liese said. “I beg to differ, as you have already arrived at this bridge. Reach out and become friends who are nothing like you, who have different views, who approach problems differently.”

While most speakers gave first hand advice, University President John J. DeGioia offered students a challenge.

Opening with a clip from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” address, DeGioia said being at Georgetown, though like a dream come true for some students, was a distant opportunity for others. Only a one-hundredth of one percentage of the world population gets a chance to study at an American research university, he explained.

“You are living a dream far beyond the imagination of most human beings. What you do with this privilege matters,” DeGioia said. “It matters because it makes no sense to gather the resources of this university and this city if it weren’t to make you the leaders of tomorrow.”

– Staff writer Nick Timiraos contributed to this report.

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