Members of Gettysburg College’s Class of 2025 arrived on campus Wednesday to a place they will soon begin to call home.
The freshmen started college following nearly two years of COVID-19 restrictions that significantly limited their high school experiences. They come from various backgrounds, locations, and cultures that contribute to the diversity of this fascinating new student body.
Although classes do not start until Monday, the new students were immediately engaged in orientation activities to introduce them to the college and the Gettysburg community.
Rachel Farbman, a Health Sciences major said, “I think the first-year walk was my favorite orientation activity. To see the size of our class and who we are spending the next four years with — because you don’t realize how large nearly 700 people is until you see all of them.”
As students traveled through Gettysburg for the walk, they received applause, coupons, and treats from members of the Gettysburg Community before arriving at the Gettysburg National Cemetery. There they heard words of wisdom from speakers including Gettysburg College President Robert Iuliano and Gettysburg Mayor Ted Streeter. The speeches were followed by the reading of President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and the solemn playing of “Taps.”
“I think we’re all very honored to go through the traditions that last year’s class didn’t get to do and to experience activities we missed out on over the last year,” said Farbman.
Students also participated in another traditional Gettysburg activity — the first year convocation — which occurred on Wednesday with their families present. Sitting outdoors in front of Pennsylvania Hall, students heard speeches from college faculty members before processing through the front of the building to signify their entrance into the Gettysburg College community.
Four years later, during commencement, the same students will walk through the opposite side of Pennsylvania Hall to symbolize their exit from the community.
“Convocation was cool to be a part of because it was very moving,” said Environmental Studies major Sam Agnew. “I hope to broaden my perspectives within education and civically. I come from a small town in New Hampshire, and it is nice to see the diversity of people in a different area.”
Jocie Little, another potential Environmental Studies major, agreed, stating that “Convocation seemed like a very sacred event and I really like how much Gettysburg cares about tradition. I also like that when we graduate, we do the same activity.”
Other students believed that the most enjoyable parts of orientation were their social interactions with new friends.
Carl DeMarco, a Political Science and Philosophy major hoping to pursue a career in politics and government, said “I was very timid coming to Gettysburg about finding a friend group and I’m happy I found a group of people already.”
“I love going to meals with the people I’ve met,” said Emma Blackman, a first-year student interested in pre-health and helping people through her science education. “I’m very excited to further my connections with friends I’ve met, and I am excited to be meeting new people.
“I’m really excited to get involved in the community and I think it’s really interesting that Gettysburg has so many different people from different places and backgrounds,” agreed Little.
However, the newest members of Gettysburg College have some concerns about their return to completely in-person classes, following a period of hybrid or online classes.
“I’m worried about transitioning back to high academic standards after the difficult past year and a half,” said Farbman.
Agnew shared similar fears, saying “I think that with online school, it was hard to feel like I was learning anything, but with being back in person, I’m excited but also scared that I’m not going to be ready for it.”
Aside from COVID-19 related anxieties, Blackman said “I am apprehensive about going into high level classes and also transitioning away from my parents, living on my own, and being independent.”
“I’m really excited to get involved in music programs, volunteering, and finding new interests and clubs,” said Little.
“I want to get involved with the Center for Public Service,” said Farbman. “Specifically, I am interested in the Casa De Cultura swimming program because it involves a demographic that I want to learn more about in the community.
With countless hopes, dreams, and fears, the Class of 2025 is arriving at a pivotal time in their lives. They will certainly make an impact upon the community they are quickly integrating themselves into.