During New Student Orientation, welcomes come to parents and students from seemingly every corner of campus—resident assistants as they hand out keys, Campus Police as they register cars and make student IDs, students working at sign in, Communication/Inquiry faculty and C/L leaders, Financial Aid and Business Affairs staff members, Interim President Michael Imhoff, Student Affairs and Student Life staffs, Admission staff, random people on campus; … everyone is excited to see the new class arrive. Then comes the “official” Welcome on the Orientation agenda, and more welcomes follow. Among those words of welcome is a message of encouragement—“I’ve been there before you”—and inspiration—“Look how far I’ve come”—from Student Body President Pranav Sheth ’18. That welcome follows:
Good morning, students, parents, and supporters of the Class of 2021! It is my privilege to welcome you to Austin College. Without a doubt, I can say this about everyone here, but every faculty, staff, and returning student is excited about you being here today.
Parents, thank you for being here as well. Although you may not end up spending as much time on campus as the students, you are deeply valued members of ‘Roo Nation now. Without you, the students would not be here. The time, love, and money you have spent on them is truly appreciated. They probably won’t say it, but I’m sure they agree with me, so on their behalf, thank you for all you do.
Students, I remember when I was in the same place you are, in fact I was sitting right there (pointing) three years ago, thinking to myself … “WHAT HAVE I GOTTEN MYSELF INTO??” Three years later, I’m still trying to make sense of it all. Ultimately, I can say this for certain: coming to Austin College was the best decision of my life and even if you have not realized it yet, this will be one of the best decisions of your lives, too.
The next four years of your life will consist of ’Roo puns, “Caf” food, and constant misunderstanding from family and friends who think you go to Austin Community College. During my time here, I have had opportunities, all of which have enabled me to lead, serve, and grow. However I wasn’t always that way. When I came to Austin College, I was a shy freshman who had absolutely no interests. Here’s something you will often hear throughout your time here, and from multiple people: Be ’Roosponsible. Remember, I warned you about the ’Roo puns. What does it mean to be ’Roosponsible? Go to class; Get some sleep: Manage your time: and here’s my personal addition: Get involved!
You are right now being thrown into a completely new place and expected to make it your home. I know that can be challenging and overwhelming, but it really is going to be okay. For some of you, being at college might be the first time you’ve been away from home, the first time you have to share a room, or my personal favorite, the first time you do your own laundry. It is going to be the things you learn both inside and outside the classroom that will help you grow personally and socially and make you the engaged citizen that Austin College wants you to be.
So, it’s important you also find things to do outside the classroom. There are over 70 student organizations on campus, so find something you like. By finding a group of people with a common interest, you will feel connected campus. Additionally, this will help you foster new friendships, and potentially gain leadership experience that employers and grad schools look for.
Parents, as you know, college is a time where you learn who you truly are. So, I ask that you support your students, but also give them some space. It really won’t help your students become the successful, independent individuals you want them to be if they are coming home every weekend.
Over the years I had to push myself to get out of my comfort zone, but when I first got here, there were many nights where I would just sit in my room, by myself, wondering why am I here, not really knowing what to do. Instead, I could have simply stepped outside my comfort zone and introduced myself to someone new and made a friend or two. You know, be a little social. However, I think it’s getting challenging for us, especially the younger crowd, to be social when they have three different screens they are paying attention to.
So right now, I have an exercise for you, parents too, everyone here right now is going to do this. What I’m about to teach you will help you be successful. By using this skill, you can get a job, maybe meet that special someone, and make friends. Who doesn’t want to make friends?
Introduce yourself to someone nearby. Extend your arm, say your name “My name is Pranav.”
I know I have said a lot of things and you may not remember all of it, but before I go, I just want to wish you the best for the journey you are about to embark on. Get out of your comfort zone; introduce yourself to others; go to events, especially this week; explore campus; don’t be afraid to ask questions; follow every single motivational cliché you’ve ever been told. Most importantly, I hope you feel connected to campus and you feel like this is your home.
Class of 2021, welcome to Austin College, welcome home!
A member of the Class of 2018, Pranav Sheth of Plano, Texas, is majoring in business administration and international relations, is a member of the Service Station Board, a delegate for Model United Nations, and an ambassador with Students Today-Alumni Tomorrow. The student body president is also a member of the Senior Committee and a student representative on the Alumni Board, as well as an organizer of TEDxAustinCollege. He also completed a Global Outreach Fellowship this summer in Brazil.