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Welcome Week 2017: The Magic of Beginnings

And suddenly you know: It's time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.
Meister Eckhart

Mary Anne Fitzpatrick - At the start of every academic year, I experience what the 14th century German philosopher Meister Eckhart called the “magic of beginnings.” This year was especially magical as our students were treated to an eclipse of the sun as they returned to campuses across the USC system. USC Columbia and USC Upstate were fortunate enough to be directly in the path of totality and saw one of nature’s most awe inspiring sights: a total solar eclipse.  The USC community took a moment to pause and gaze in awe as the sound of the cicadas crescendoed and the moon passed in front of the sun. What a way to begin the semester and for our first year students! What a way to signify the beginning of college life!

The world only slowed down for a few minutes, and it wasn’t long before there was a flurry of activity as thousands of students across the state moved into our dormitories, participated in Welcome Week activities, and prepared for their first week of classes.  

The University of South Carolina is a special and friendly place, and on move-in day, administrators, faculty and staff volunteer to help parents and students move in. The day saw exhausted parents, students, and volunteers carrying armloads of “necessary” clothing and equipment to be shoe-horned into what suddenly seems to be a far smaller space than imagined.  While walking back to my office on move-in day, I overheard one parent joke that there—sadly-- wouldn’t be room for the entertainment center and the big screen television they had brought from home.

Once our freshman were settled, they attended their convocation ceremonies, which commemorated their inclusion as new students at the University of South Carolina. The event was their first formal gathering of their academic class. They heard from student and university leadership, and afterwards they had the chance to interact with faculty.

The quiet reprieve of the summer months is over, and the campuses are full of new energy and life as students buy books, try to find their classrooms and meeting spaces, and make new friends. This week marked the beginning our students’ academic journeys, and I hope their remaining years at USC are just as magical.  

Although…I do suspect it will be hard to top the experience of the solar eclipse!

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