President Wilson Advises Students to Enjoy the Ride at New Student Convocation

New students are inspired by stories of trial and triumph.


Jake Herron

Students pack FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field to hear a speech from UA President Matthew J. Wilson during New Student Convocation.

By Robert Barrett, Jr., Copy Editor

On Friday, Aug. 25, students along with faculty and alumni gathered in FirstEnergy Stadium-Cub Cadet Field to officially welcome The University of Akron’s incoming class. Attendees received a UA Zippy Pin as they entered the stadium. The ceremony opened with Willy Kollman, the director of Alumni Relations, who welcomed new students with spirited cheers and then introduced President Matthew Wilson.

UA Convocation
Graphic courtesy of University Communications and Marketing

Wilson started by taking multiple selfies with all sections of the stadium. Then, Wilson gave an address to students which compared earning a college degree and a 50-mile bicycle ride he embarked on when he was 13.

Wilson discussed soliciting help from those around him before commencing the trip. Parents, mentors and coaches were among those named. Wilson talked about how the trip was filled with ups and downs due to hills and about the satisfaction which awaited him upon completion of the trip.

Wilson drew further comparisons between his bicycle trip and earning a college degree. He stressed that it is simply not enough to try to get by; he wants students to excel and succeed.

“Commit yourself to finishing the journey and refuse to let go, regardless of what might come,” Wilson said to students. Wilson said that while there will be problems along the way, it is important to not give up.

Earning a degree was an overarching theme of the president’s address to students. Wilson pointed out almost three out of four Ohioans do not hold a four-year bachelor’s degree and that graduating from the University already sets students apart from others in the world.

Wilson emphasized to new students that there is always help available and that professors, faculty, advisors and even himself are always available and eager to help students. Along with this, Wilson encouraged students to support and serve others.

“Start and keep peddling,” Wilson said to students. “Distinguish yourself through grades, classroom performance, extracurricular activities, service, research, invention, discovery, your energy, your positivity, your outlook and your leadership,” Wilson said.  Wilson concluded saying “Welcome to The University of Akron; I hope that you enjoy the ride … Go Zips!”

Following President Wilson, Undergraduate Student Government President Taylor Bennington, welcomed the student body.

Bennington said Akron is a remarkable place and a university filled with opportunity. There is a place for everyone here he said, noting that there are over 350 student organizations on campus that students can join. Bennington finished his address by welcoming new students to the UA family saying “we are better because you are here.”

Following closing remarks from Kollman, students and faculty alike joined together in Coleman Common for food and drink.

Specific colleges then held their own welcome events for students with majors in those colleges. The College of Health Professions, the College of Business Administration, the College of Engineering, the Buchtel College of Arts and Science, The LeBron James Family Foundation College of Education and the College of Applied Science and Technology all held college specific welcome events following lunch.