Office of the President

September 22, 2019

Welcome, New Huskies! The 2019 Convocation President’s Address

Ana Mari Cauce

The following is President Ana Mari Cauce’s address to incoming students and their families at the 2019 Convocation ceremony, held in the Alaska Airlines Arena on Sunday, September 22, 2019. Remarks as prepared for delivery.

Thousands gather in Hec Ed in the Alaska Airlines Arena for New Student Convocation, September 22, 2019

2019 New Student Convocation

I am so pleased to say, “Welcome, new Huskies!” Of course, I’m talking to you, our new students – whether you’re beginning your college career as a freshman or continuing it as a transfer, graduate or professional student. But I’m also talking to all of you, the moms and dads, siblings and grandparents and guardians, and everyone who came here today in support of your student. We are proud to call you ALL Huskies and to welcome you into – or back to – our campus and community.

Students, I know Convocation day can be overwhelming. You’re in the midst of a major transition. You may still be learning the route between your residence hall and the closest Starbucks, and here you are, crisscrossing the campus for a ceremony and a picnic and a photograph in Husky Stadium! It’s a lot to take in!

So, for just moment, let’s all close our eyes… you too moms and dads…  take a deep breath… and let it out.

You’re going to be fine.

Actually, you’ll be better than fine, because you’re going to learn so much about the world, and yourselves on this journey you’re beginning.

Each of you is about embark on what we call the Husky Experience. Your Husky Experience will be unlike anyone else’s. It will be unique to you – it will take shape in classrooms, laboratories, libraries and residence halls. It might grow to include a run for office in the ASUW or GPSS, or membership in a registered student organization. It might make you into a researcher or send you on a study abroad trip. It will include friendships and mentoring. It will also contain disappointments, but believe it or not, those disappointments will end up being as valuable as the moments of triumph. And you will have plenty of those.

Behind me are some of the world’s most talented, inspiring faculty – people who are not only passionate about their fields of study, but eager to share their knowledge and enthusiasm with you. And these folks, by the way, are just a fraction of the talented educators who make up the UW faculty. You can look forward to experiencing this for yourself as you get to know your professors, lecturers and teaching assistants.

You’re going to learn a lot from your faculty, but you’re going to learn just as much from the people sitting all around you, and from your fellow Huskies who sat where you’re sitting in years past. Like you, they weren’t sure what to major in, or how to get to the nearest Starbucks. But they figured it out. Together, you will too.

Each of you brings a unique perspective to the UW and part of what makes the UW great is the sharing of those perspectives. The opportunity to see things through a lens you never considered before is among the most valuable things you can do as you prepare to enter the wider world. I hope you will take full advantage of the fact that you come from all over the world, from different kinds of families, with your own traditions and experiences.

And finally, the very best advice I can give you is to be open to the spark of curiosity, and to let that spark bloom into a fire that lights up your whole life. I experienced that spark when I was undergraduate myself. I discovered a passion for psychology research and that spark led to a career that has brought me joy and satisfaction. That spark brought me all the way from Miami, where I grew up, to Seattle, a home I love. That spark was the beginning of everything that has allowed me to make a positive difference in the world. Your spark is waiting to find you.

As you seek your spark, remember that all of us, here on the stage and across the University are here to help you succeed. It’s okay to have questions – we’re here to answer them. It’s normal to feel uncertain – we’re here to talk it through. A lot of things will be new to you – but you’re surrounded by people who can share their experience.

Moms and dad, families and friends, thank you for all you’ve done to get your students to this point. We are honored and excited to become part of their support network, cheering them on, being a shoulder to lean on. Above all, please know that they are in good hands.

So students – let’s take one more deep breath as you get ready for this adventure: the Husky Experience you create as part of this community of talented, driven Huskies.

Welcome to the University of Washington!