Drew University Welcomes CLA Class of 2024

New students receive warm virtual welcome in Opening of School Ceremony

August 2020 – The annual Drew University Opening of School Ceremony looked a little different in 2020.

Instead of new undergraduate students and their families sitting on the Mead Hall lawn, nearly 200 livestreamers were officially welcomed into the Drew community in a virtual ceremony that featured words from Interim President Thomas Schwarz, Provost Jessica Lakin, Dean of CLA/Caspersen School of Graduate Studies Ryan Hinrichs, Associate Professor of Biology Brianne Barker, Student Government President Mehek Agrawal C’22, and other university officials.

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President Schwarz, who began his tenure at Drew earlier this month, thanked students for choosing Drew, adding that he, too, recently made that same decision when looking at opportunities in higher education.

“Drew, frankly, was the first opportunity that I had seen that I felt was a committed liberal arts institution doing a great job educating its students,” he said.

“What you’ve chosen is an institution whose heart is in the academics and in immersive experiences,” Schwarz added.

Later, Student Government President Mehek Agrawal C’22, a biology and studio art double major, spoke from her home in India about why she chose to come to Drew.

“The beautiful campus, the research opportunities, the proximity to New York City—most of which we will need to wait until we’re on campus again to enjoy—but most of all, I chose Drew because of its small, close-knit community,” she said.

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A black-and-white version of Drew's former shield logo will be the Class of 2024's class flag icon.

“University is meant to be a transformative experience, and it still can be if you choose to make it . . . You truly have the power to design your experience here, so take advantage of the resources being shared with you. Be proactive in meeting people . . . the friends you make here are going to be a big influence on your personal growth. Make sure while you’re at Drew you connect with faculty, too. At Drew, professors like Dr. Barker care enough and make the time to get to know you and cater to your individual needs.”

Speaking of the academic and personal path the incoming students are beginning to embark on, Dean Hinrichs spoke of core values.

“Four years from now, I am confident that you will be able to answer core questions of value, like what matters to me and how can I best contribute to making the world a better place? You will also have the skills to act upon these core values,” he said.

The event’s keynote speaker, 2020 CLA Teacher of the Year Brianne Barker, echoed the words of her biology student Mehek Agrawal in her own thoughts on this unprecedented entrance into college life.

“The first year of everything is exciting and wonderful and hard. I point this out because 2020 is kind of hard,” she quipped.

“This experience might not be exactly what you’ve always been imagining, but it turns out I’ve learned the most from things in my life that were hard.”

At the end of the ceremony, Orientation Committee Coordinators Jordyn Smith C’21 and Althessa Jones C’21 revealed the Class of 2024’s selection for the class flag: the shield.

Frank Merckx, Vice President of Campus Life and Student Affairs, brought the ceremony to a close saying, “You will always remember this moment when your life felt slightly disrupted, but you chose to continue walking toward your dreams. Class of 2024, welcome to Drew!”

The traditional signing of the matriculation book ceremony in the Drew Theological School will take place this spring. Timing for the CLA Class of 2024 to sign the matriculation book and recite the first-year pledge is TBD.

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