At the President’s Con­vo­ca­tion on Monday morning, uni­ver­sity and stu­dent leaders chal­lenged the 116th entering class to explore the world through Northeastern’s unique model of expe­ri­en­tial education.

In order to learn you need to inte­grate class­room learning and real world expe­ri­ence,” Pres­i­dent Joseph E. Aoun told some 2,800 freshmen who filled Matthews Arena.

Aoun encour­aged the newest crop of stu­dents to chart their own aca­d­emic path through more than 90 majors and con­cen­tra­tions as well as through research projects, entre­pre­neur­ship, and expe­ri­en­tial learning oppor­tu­ni­ties in 93 coun­tries world­wide. “If you are inter­ested in under­standing the world then get out of your com­fort zone and explore dif­ferent domains,” he said. “If you’re inter­ested in eco­nomics, then go explore the sci­ences. If you’re inter­ested in finance, then go explore philosophy.”

You are going to be impacted by what’s hap­pening in the world no matter where you go,” he added. “Explore what you like and what you don’t like, and then unleash your poten­tial and creativity.”

Laura Mueller-​​Soppart, a fourth-​​year eco­nomics and polit­ical sci­ence combined major. Photo by Kristie Gillooly

Laura Mueller-​​​​Soppart, a fourth-​​​​year eco­nomics and polit­ical sci­ence com­bined major, addressed new stu­dents. Photo by Kristie Gillooly

Laura Mueller-​​Soppart, a fourth-​​year eco­nomics and polit­ical sci­ence com­bined major, echoed Aoun’s sen­ti­ments by encour­aging her peers to adopt a “just go for it” mentality.

North­eastern has taught me that the best paths are those that are rec­og­nized in ret­ro­spect,” said Mueller-​​Soppart, who has com­pleted co-​​ops at the Mass­a­chu­setts Exec­u­tive Office of Admin­is­tra­tion and Finance and the Macarthur Foun­da­tion, where she worked on sus­tain­able devel­op­ment in the Madeira Basin in South America. “Live every semester like it’s a chapter in your mem­oirs,” she added. “If you already know how it’s going to end it would be pretty boring.”

Nick Naraghi, pres­i­dent of the Stu­dent Gov­ern­ment Asso­ci­a­tion, urged mem­bers of the new class to try new things without wor­rying about making mis­takes. “Mis­takes are a part of col­lege,” he told them. “It’s how well you recover from them that shows the true con­tent of your character.”

Northeastern's 116th class gathered at Matthews Arena for the President's Convocation. Photo by Brooks Canaday.

Northeastern’s 116th entering class gath­ered at Matthews Arena for the President’s Con­vo­ca­tion. Photo by Brooks Canaday.

Naraghi pointed to their prior suc­cess in class, on the field, and in the com­mu­nity as proof of their ability to ele­vate the uni­ver­sity community.

For any­thing you want to do, there’s a com­mu­nity of intel­li­gent, moti­vated indi­vid­uals here who are just as pas­sionate about it as you are,” he said, noting that the uni­ver­sity fea­tures more than 325 student-​​run campus orga­ni­za­tions ranging from cul­tural groups to honor soci­eties. “Being part of our com­mu­nity means sharing in the events and activ­i­ties that happen on our campus every day.”

Stephen W. Director, provost and senior vice pres­i­dent for aca­d­emic affairs, expounded upon the theme of explo­ration, citing the university’s focus on use-​​inspired research.

You are begin­ning your col­lege careers in a vibrant, com­pre­hen­sive research uni­ver­sity, where you will join our fac­ulty and your fellow stu­dents in the adven­ture of learning, extending the bound­aries of knowl­edge, and addressing the chal­lenges of the world out­side our walls,” he said.

Pres­i­dent Aoun with new stu­dents at a bar­becue event on Cen­ten­nial Common. Photo by Kristie Gillooly.

Pres­i­dent Aoun with new stu­dents at a bar­becue event on Cen­ten­nial Common. Photo by Kristie Gillooly.

Before heading to the Wel­come Week bar­becue, the new stu­dents were treated to per­for­mances by the university’s cheer­leaders as well as the stu­dent a cap­pella group, The Nor’easters.