Excerpts from Dave’s welcome to the Center for Diversity and Inclusion Smooth Transitions Orientation participants.
While it was many years ago and many miles from here, I still vividly remember my first day of college. I remember moving in, meeting my roommate, and eating at the dining hall with guys I barely knew.
The day had its awkward social moments and its hard family moments. But despite all this, while sitting on the ledge outside my dorm window at the end of the day (please, do not do that here!), I knew I had arrived.
Let me tell you, you also have arrived. You may or may not have a similar realization of this 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 landed at college eager for what was to come, I also lacked 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 called Houses; their mission was to do service around, and raise awareness about, homelessness issues. A number of upperclassmen in the group became my mentors: they shared with me the best classes to take, supported me when I ran into bumps in the road, and challenged me to do things I would never have imagined doing.
Something I had not imagined doing, which they encouraged me to do, was studying abroad. My semester abroad in Greece and Italy awoke in me an awareness and appreciation of the cultural richness of countries beyond our borders. And when I returned I better recognized the diversity and richness of the many cultures on my very own campus.
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, my attention was increasingly focused on the beauty and impact of the mixing of cultural, racial, and religious difference.
I came to the conclusion that when we are intentional about sharing who we are and what values and cultural traditions inspire us, life gets more interesting and meaningful—not always easier but richer.
Your being here suggests you want to share who you are with others and connect with students who come from a variety of cultural backgrounds. This program and the Multicultural, Gender and Women’s Center are just two of many manifestations of Xavier's commitment to promote an exploration of and celebration of our collective cultural richness throughout the University.
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 engage in conversations over 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, when you need tutoring in a course or when you just need someone to talk to. 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. I welcome you to the start of your next grand adventure.