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Students Encouraged to Find Their Passion at Campus Convocation
Event Kicks Off More Than 100 Campus Welcome Week Activities

By Ioana Patringenaru | Sept. 24, 2007

Murillo, Rue, and Fox (Photo / Victor W. Chen)
Associated Students President Marco Murillo, Vice Chancellor Penny Rue and Chancellor Marye Anne Fox during Sunday's convocation.

After graduating from UCSD in 2006, Kate Pillon headed to South Central Los Angeles to teach fifth grade. She saw many of her pupils struggle. Then, she saw them flourish.

Sunday, Pillon was back on campus to talk about her experiences to about 1,000 freshmen and new transfer students during UCSD’s second campuswide convocation, held on the Sun God lawn. She now teaches sixth grade. Recently, while handing out UCSD T-shirts to some of her pupils, Pillon began looking back on her years on campus. The university ignited her passion for learning, she said.

“Something I was sure of is that education is power and I wanted to share it,” she told the audience.

Passion was the theme of Sunday’s new student convocation. During the 45-minute event, Chancellor Marye Anne Fox, Pillon, Associated Students President Marco Murillo and top administrators and faculty tried to give students a road map to finding that passion and helping it flourish.

Fox encouraged students to volunteer and make connections. “We’re committed to nurturing, supporting and encouraging you,” she told students. Study abroad, learn about a different culture and learn a foreign language, she advised. About 1,250 UCSD students will venture abroad this academic year. Meanwhile, about 2,400 international students will attend UCSD this fall.

 “It’s because you’re at UCSD that the world is going to open up to you,” Fox said.

Welcome Convocation (Photo / Victor W. Chen)
About UCSD 1000 students attended the convocation.

This year’s keynote speaker, Susan Shirk, director of UC’s Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation, headquartered at UCSD, ventured abroad herself as a student. Her academic career took her from studying China in the United States, to interviewing refugees in Hong Kong, to visiting China. She was part of one of the first groups that visited the country after it opened up to foreigners – right after the U.S. ping-pong team and just before President Nixon. Shirk went on to become an official in the State Department during President Clinton’s administration. She crafted policy and took part in high-level negotiations on a wide range of subjects, from nuclear weapons to free trade.

“It’s because you’re at UCSD that the world is going to open up to you.”

“My advice to you is to follow your own curiosity,” she said. “Be open and expect changes all over the world.”

While speakers’ advice touched on traveling abroad, they also talked about campus life. Make UCSD your second home; make it your own, said Associated Students President Murillo. “I hope that when you leave this campus, you won’t only be leaving with a degree but also with the satisfaction that you have made it better,” he said.

Penny Rue, the new Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, urged undergraduates to find their niche. Take a course you never imagined taking; do research with a professor; be prepared to give back, she said.

 “Leadership at UCSD will prepare you for leadership for a lifetime,” she said. “The journey begins right here, right now.”

Welcome Convocation (Photo / Victor W. Chen)
Vice Chancellor Penny Rue greets a student.
Welcome Convocation (Photo / Victor W. Chen)
A group of friends poses for the camera.

This year’s convocation kicked off UCSD’s Welcome Week. About 4,100 freshmen and 1,650 new transfer students are set to take part in more than 100 activities on campus from Sept. 22 to 26, before the first day of classes Sept. 27. Events range from the spirited Triton Power Hour pep rally Monday at RIMAC, to the six-college UnOlympics competition at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday on the North Campus track field.

at UCSD will prepare you for leadership for a lifetime...The journey begins right here, right now.”

This year’s freshmen and incoming transfer students are coming to a campus with new top administrators, new programs and much new construction. Later this year, students will enjoy a major overhaul of the Price Center. The new addition includes more than 172,000 square feet of space, with an expanded bookstore, a night club, several restaurants and a café and is scheduled to open in winter quarter. The second round of renovation of the old student center will get done in late fall 2007.

Students also will face fewer parking headaches, thanks to the new $30 million Hopkins Parking Structure, which opened in September with 1320 spots. More construction is also underway for future years, including a $48.8 million addition for the San Diego Supercomputer Center, set to open June 2008, and the $55 million Conrad Prebys Music Center, set to open January 2009.

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