The fall semester has officially kicked into first gear at SUNY New Paltz as 1,800 incoming freshmen and transfers moved into their dorm rooms last Thursday. Parents and students hustled piles of belongings under trees to keep them out of the rain, but the organized chaos moved faster when the sun briefly welcomed the new students to town.
This year, SUNY New Paltz received 16,216 applications, upholding its title as one of the most selective and competitive colleges in the SUNY system.
A group of new friends sitting near the barbecue after Friday’s convocation ceremony were more than happy to share their thoughts about New Paltz. Nessa Bratslavsky, of Brooklyn, said she came to New Paltz’s open house alone. “My mom dropped me off at the Trailways bus station and I didn’t know what to expect,” she said. “But the campus felt very welcoming and I made the decision.” Bratslavsky plans on studying media and film.
Kim Engly, a theatre major from Lindenhurst, said that she cannot wait to make a new family in New Paltz. Olivia Whale-Kipp and Deanna Casanas from Queens are both excited to explore and find their way around campus and the surrounding area while studying what they are passionate about — theatre.
The incoming students included 16 who traveled from Brazil through the Brazilian Scientific Mobility Program. The initiative works through Science without Borders to send thousands of students to study science, mathematics, technology and engineering, as well as take ESL courses throughout the United States. The students will study here for three semesters. The program was part of “100,000 Strong” and was started by Dilma Rousseff, the first woman president of Brazil. The “100,000 Strong” initiative provides 100,000 scholarships to Brazil’s top students to study at the world’s best colleges. This is the second year New Paltz is participating in the program and director Connie Perdreau expects it will only grow.
This year’s convocation ceremony was redesigned based on student, faculty and alumni input. Students lined up outside the Athletic and Wellness Center while the final preparations were made inside. Once the long line of students began filtering through the doors, the entire building exploded with energy akin to a music festival. Shouts of excitement and chants of “New Paltz! New Paltz!” were heard as the incoming students wandered, laughed, danced or high-fived their way down a line of staff members leading to the gymnasium. After 20 minutes of ecstatic roaring, everyone found a seat and the ceremony began.
During the ceremony, the 2014 valedictorian Arielle Rubinstein offered some important advice to the incoming students. “I have not just encountered a place to earn an education, I’ve found a home,” she said. Rubinstein plans to stay in New Paltz to complete her graduate’s degree. “You are not just a face in a crowd here… The professors are your personal source for creative inspiration.”
It was back to business on Monday as classes resumed and once again the SUNY New Paltz campus was filled with youthful energy and high expectations.