The rush from shouting “Hail to the Victors” and the words of University President Mary Sue Coleman marked the way the Class of 2006 will remember Thursday’s Freshman Convocation at Crisler Arena.

Paul Wong
University President Mary Sue Coleman speaks at the New Student Convocation Thursday at Crisler Arena. Coleman, former president of the University of Iowa, took office Aug. 1. (TONY DING/Daily)

“I get this feeling when they all start doing ‘Hail to the Victors.’ It’s like adrenaline,” Nursing freshman Jackie Schrot said.

“I’m definitely psyched,” LSA freshman Shannon Dougherty said, adding that her first impression of the new president, who started in her position Aug. 1, was positive. “She was all into it. She did a nice job.”

Members of the Class of 2006 united as they sat together in Crisler and listened as University figures gave them advice for the future and welcomed them to Michigan.

University President Mary Sue Coleman had words of praise for the class, but focused the majority of her time on giving advice.

“It’s wonderful to have you here at last – our fabulous class of 2006. Even from this distance, I can see the spark in your eye that says ‘Here I am, bring it on!’ I know exactly how you feel because I am new here too,” Coleman told the arena filled with approximately 4,000 freshmen.

She talked to students about what she called the “dance” students must perform during college: One step forward, one step back and a sideways slide.

“Learning should be a joyful, exciting experience – not a dogged march from the first day of class to a predetermined finish line or the first day of your first job. Loosen up,” she said. “Explore those tangential paths while you have the chance.”

Coleman advised students to be prepared for the changes that await over the next four years – in the world, as well as in their lives and aspirations.

“There’s a serious reason to keep your eye out for diagonal paths in the years ahead. Whatever your college and career plans may be now, you cannot possibly predict how sharply your own personal path may twist and turn,” she said.

“Just think of your predecessors at this New Student Convocation only a year ago – before Sept. 11, before all these recent corporate collapses, before the ground seemed to shift from under your feet,” she said. “Those students, the Class of 2005, came here with a whole different set of expectations and assumptions from yours. Now some of them may be rethinking their majors and career plans.”

After hearing Coleman’s speech, several freshmen said their first impression of Coleman was positive.

“I was worried she’d be one of those silent types, sitting behind a cubicle,” LSA freshman Max Burgman said. “I was riveted to my seat.”

Director of Undergraduate Admissions Ted Spencer congratulated the class on their admission to the University, praising the students, as in past years, as “the most talented class in the history of the University.”

He also provided some statistics about the Class of 2006, which hails from 70 countries and 1,400 high schools, and is 51 percent female.

Thirty percent of freshmen were elected to student government offices; 25 percent received all-city, league, county or state athletic awards; over 50 percent played a musical instrument, and over 44 percent performed in a facility the caliber of Carnegie Hall; 28 percent received a community service award; 50 percent worked for a high school publication; and 10 percent started their own business.

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