Words of Welcome from Xavier University's Associate Provost for Student Affairs

Dave Johnson

While it was many years ago and many miles from here, I still vividly remember my first day of college. I remember moving in. I remember meeting my roommate. I remember my first trip to the dining hall with a handful of guys whom I had never met before.

The day had its awkward social moments and it had its hard family moments. Nonetheless, at the very end of the day I crawled out my window and sat on the ledge (please, do not do that here) and I knew I had arrived.

Let me tell you, you have arrived.

You may or may not have a similar aha moment tonight, but in the days and weeks to come you will see that Xavier will open up for you a host of opportunities that will invite you and challenge you to become your very best selves.

While I arrived to college eager for what was to come, I also arrived, perhaps like some of you, without a great deal of direction. After a few weeks my generic excitement for college began to wear off, right about the same time that my school had its club fair. One of the clubs I signed up for was Houses, a group whose mission was to do service around and raise awareness about homelessness issues. A number of upperclassmen in the group became mentors; they told me about the best classes to take; they supported me when I ran into bumps in the road and they challenged me to do things I would never have imagined doing.

One thing I had not imagined doing was studying abroad. My semester abroad in Greece and Italy awoke in me an awareness of the cultural richness in countries across the ocean, more importantly when I returned I recognized the diversity and richness of the many cultures on my very own campus.

You are all keenly aware of cultural identity, well I guess I was just a bit of a slow learner.

In the two academic years that followed my time abroad, I got more and more caught up in my course work and clubs. In the midst of all of this, nonetheless, my attention was increasingly focused on the beauty of, and impact of, the mixing of cultural, racial, and religious difference.

I came to the conclusion that when we are explicit about sharing who we are and what values and cultural traditions inspire us, life gets much richer, not always easier but always richer, and much more meaningful.

Your being here suggests you want to share your cultural identity with others and connect with other students who come from a variety of cultural backgrounds. This program and the Office of Multi-cultural Affairs are just two of many manifestations of Xavier?s commitment to promote, throughout the University, an exploration of and celebration of our collective cultural richness.

Your being here also means you are off to a good start. Your being here suggests to me that you are serious about owning your Xavier experience. You are, like Usuain Bolt, a step ahead.

In the same way that my study abroad experience shaped my years in college, and, really my whole outlook on life, you will have experiences, take courses, and have conversations in the next four years that will spark your curiosity and introduce you to new passions and interests.

While it is you that must own your experience at Xavier, you of course are not alone. Staff and faculty from across the university will be there to support you when you are facing difficult situations, when you have a challenge with a roommate or when you need tutoring in a course or when you just need someone to talk to because you are in a tough patch. Staff and faculty will also be there when you have a bold and innovative idea. When you want to start a new club. When you want to figure out how to study abroad. When you want to find a career that matches your passions.

While you must continue to own your experience you do so with the support of individuals from across the university.

On the horizon are opportunities and possibilities; we look forward to pursuing them with you.

Xavier is a better place as a result of your being here. Thank you for being here.

Given on August 16, 2012, this speech was to welcome the 2012 Smooth Transitions participants.