Fresno State welcomed 5,700 new students Monday at the newly revived New Student Convocation with a roaring welcoming line, an address from President Joseph Castro, student performances and prizes at the Bulldog Bash afterparty.
After walking under a giant inflatable bulldog mascot, thousands of new freshmen, transfer and graduate students entered the doors of the Save Mart Center and were greeted by a receiving line of Fresno State faculty, staff and current students with high-fives, cheers and applause.
With pom-poms in their hands and cheering at the top of their lungs, Jenna Sawdon-Bea and Deborah Walker from the department of physical therapy were the first greeters students saw as they walked in.
“I’m here so they feel included – so they feel welcomed.” Sawdon-Bea said.
“A lot of the times, this is their first time away from home, and we are a welcoming environment in Fresno and we care about our students,” Walker said.
Madeline Grigsby and Gabriel Alvarado, both freshmen from Manteca, exited the welcoming tunnel with ear-to-ear grins.
“I like all the people that were high-fiving us,” Grigsby said. “I’ve been here like two days, and it has already been awesome.”
The New Student Convocation has been restored after a decade-long suspension.
“The convocation is an old tradition that we have brought back to welcome new students and introduce them into the bulldog family and get them to meet all the faculty and staff members who will help them in their journey,” said Lauren Welch, coordinator of new student orientation.
President Castro addressed the new students, giving them a snapshot of experiences they could have in the coming years and urging them to enjoy their time at Fresno State, as well as staying focused on their goals.
Once the ceremony concluded, all students were invited to the Bulldog Bash afterparty where free food, giveaways and many games and activities were arranged.
The students had a chance to personally meet President Castro, take a picture with the Bulldog mascot, play laser tag and tumble in a hamster ball obstacle course.
“I think this really helps to bring freshmen into Fresno State because when you start going to college it is a brand new experience, and it can be very daunting for some people,” said Christian Cunningham, a sophomore biology major. “I came from a really small high school, and coming from a small school to a big school, stuff like this is really helpful.”