On the eve of their first day of classes at Kennesaw State University, first-year students received an official welcome to campus at the university’s Convocation ceremony on Sunday.

An annual tradition, First-Year Convocation began in pep rally-style with the cheer squad and Scrappy the mascot leading the crowd in cheers of “K! S! U!” The ceremony then turned formal, complete with faculty dressed in academic regalia, explaining to first-year students the importance of a college education and the value of a degree from KSU.

“You are a step closer to making your dreams a reality,” said university president Sam Olens to the students assembled at the Convocation Center. “Indeed, this is a proud occasion for everyone gathered here, but especially for those of you who have been accepted into the KSU community of scholars, and for your families and friends here with you today.”

Convocation capped a busy weekend for first-year students, including about 3,500 of them moving into on-campus housing on the Kennesaw and Marietta campuses.

The Convocation keynote speaker was KSU’s Travis Allen. While he is completing his business management degree at KSU, Allen continues to grow iSchool Initiative, the organization he founded to promote digital learning in classrooms.

Allen won the Google Young Minds competition in 2011 and was named the Georgia Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2015. He encouraged the first-year students “to find out what you can do to change the world” and to determine their answer to the question, “Why am I here?”

“I think it’s the most important question you can ask yourself as you begin your freshman year,” Allen said. “This is the best time to be a freshman at Kennesaw State University. The world around us is changing, and most people in the workforce are sweating because they don’t know how to invent the future — but that’s where you come in.”

Prior to Allen’s remarks, Student Government Association president Victoria Brock offered the students four pieces of advice — go to class, visit your professors during their office hours, get involved and make time for yourself.

“You’re now part of the family I’ve called home for three years,” Brock said. “I hope you do incredible things here.”

To conclude the ceremony, Olens led the students in reciting the Owl Creed, a commitment to academic excellence and personal integrity that each member of the KSU community is expected to follow. Students were invited to sign poster-sized copies of the Owl Creed as they left the Convocation Center.

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