University of South Carolina

Freshmen should use time at Carolina to explore

By Liz White, lwhite@mailbox.sc.edu, 803-777-2848

The University of South Carolina welcomed the incoming class of 2016 on Sunday (Aug. 19) in a convocation ceremony, encouraging the new students to take advantage of all the university’s academic resources.

Milind Kunchur, a physics professor in the College of Arts and Sciences, urged students to explore the many areas of study USC has to offer by investigating various professions and taking courses from different disciplines.

“The next four years will define your direction in life and provide a platform for your future career, as well as shape the person you are going to be,” Kunchur said. “A university like ours has a huge variety of departments and disciplines. Feel free to explore. You don't have to have all the answers already - you are here to find out and to discover.”

Kunchur, who was chosen to speak as this year’s Michael J. Mungo Distinguished Professor of the Year, said he wanted his speech to provide practical advice to this year’s 4,640 freshmen. He pushed students to explore classes in fields outside their majors

“A university education should do more than just prepare you narrowly for one specific job; it should turn you into well rounded and broadly informed members of society and future pillars of the community,” Kunchur said. “The most successful leaders in various fields are those who have a breadth of knowledge that goes beyond their own discipline."

He told students to begin preparing for their four years at Carolina by thinking about their dreams and goals and staying on top of their classes from the start. Students should engage in broader academic activities outside the classroom to get a hands-on feel for disciplines and professions, he said.

Kunchur said he hoped his speech gave students a better understanding for how to interact with the faculty and staff at the university to work together as a team.

“Often, they are told that it depends only on them and what they do, but all of us factor in as well,” he said of his speech.

USC President Harris Pastides also welcomed the new students by telling them to explore the campus.

“Being a student at a university, especially one as rich and diverse as ours, fosters the explorer spirit,” Pastides said. “That is the freshman spirit, after all, the spirit of an explorer, and I want you to be the best explorers you can be so that you can derive a unique experience that is best for you.” 

First-year psychology major Kathleen Osborne said convocation made her feel like USC cared about new students feeling welcome in their new home.

Pastides offered practical advice. He urged students to stay healthy and take advantage of the university’s wellness initiatives. He told the class to get plenty of sleep and to make real life connections that don’t depend on social media.

The president said freshmen should get involved in some of the 400 clubs and organizations USC has to offer to develop leadership skills.

“There are absolutely no limits to what you can do and my goal for you is that you commit to a personal path of leadership,” Pastides said. “Our university will afford you every opportunity to acquit yourself as a leader.”

First-year exercise science students Jessica Napoli and Caitlin McGougan said the president’s speech would inspire them to go out and experience campus just as upperclassmen would and to bond with the others in their class.  

Dillon McBride, a first-year finance major, said he would take the president’s advice to get involved. The president made the university sound like a great place with a lot of organizations and acitivies, McBride said.

“I’m gonna like the next four years here,” he said.

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Posted: 08/19/12 @ 12:00 AM | Updated: 12/20/12 @ 1:03 PM | Permalink