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Largest class on record welcomed by College of Business at Freshman Convocation

Wednesday, August 26 2015 12:00am

By Brianna Wilson

Faculty, staff, students, and an alumna speaker all the way from Chicago alike gathered at Nelson Commons to properly welcome the 614-person College of Business Class of 2019 this Saturday, August 22 – and boy, were the students excited. From nervous chatter before the ceremony started to intent listening during to firm handshakes and smiles at the reception afterwards, this year’s class proved they are ready to start – and to start off right.   

“I saw a lot of wide eyes, a lot of smiles, and a lot of eager, young faces,” said Colin Gabler, assistant professor of marketing. “The energy these students have make this an exciting time to be a faculty member.”

Down to the details, there was a theme tying the event together: the number four. Four speakers. Four pieces of advice. And, most of all, focus on what you can do with your four years at OHIO’s College of Business.

The program began with two student speakers who focused on getting involved – and doing so early. Amanda Browning, ’16, focused on the opportunities within the College, and the doors they can open, while Kevin Warner, ’16, focused on how to create a transformational experience.

“The great thing is that these four years are all about you and what you want to be when you walk off that stage,” he said.

Next up was vivacious Lori Klamo, a 2003 alumna who majored in management information systems and marketing. Now, she is a Bing advertising sales manager at Microsoft, and is helping build the Chicago office.

She began by recounting how nervous she was moving into the dorm. “After my parents left, I had a sinking realization that I was all alone. I knew no one on Campus and the only people who cared about me were 150 miles away.” 

It didn’t take long for her to allay student anxieties as evidenced by the countless pictures of friends made at the College of Business, anecdotes about how they still keep in touch today, and lighthearted jokes about feeling lost. 

“I could relate well to her speech, because I’m definitely nervous,” said new Business Bobcat Francesca Grenick, ’19, scanning the room for a familiar face.

Klamo went on to combine humor about her favorite culinary spot in Athens, Burrito Buggy, with some serious pieces of advice.

“I’ll have four pieces of advice – just to set some expectations for how long this [speech] is going to be,” she joked.

Through recalling her experiences in and out of college, Klamo offered four key lessons: Follow your passion, and get some experience; build relationships; be self-aware and adaptable to change, and lastly; build communication skills because words matter.

The final speaker was Hugh Sherman, dean of the College of Business, who wasted no time showing a ticking clock, saying, “It may look like a lot of time, but it’s only four years. That’s the point of today – to start thinking about what you want to do with that time.”

After telling a brief anecdote, he encouraged students to examine two questions daily to keep them on track: Who are you, and why are you here?

Before releasing students to meet faculty, staff, and each other, he added a new tradition. Each of the freshmen signed their names in a ledger book, and when they graduate, they’ll sign again. “Signing your name is like making a promise,” said Sherman. “You’re promising to yourself and to the College that you will do the best you can in the next four years. You’ll get involved, you’ll ask for help, and you’ll take advantage of the opportunities offered.”

With that, students headed outside for the informal reception and to sign their names in ink.

The class embraced the new tradition. “It’s neat because when we graduate, we’ll be able to look back and think of this day,” said Anna Bratcher, ‘19. “It really is a special day.”

Professors were happy to get to know their future students. “I always like seeing students through from start to finish,” said Deanna House, assistant professor of Management Information Systems. “[At Convocation], I was able to talk with students and start building relationships right away.”

A new assistant professor of marketing, Alexa Fox, liked the event so well that she said she wished she’d had convocation during her undergraduate career. “It’s a really nice event,” she said. “It gives professors and students a chance to meet before the first day of class, which I really like. The students I’ve met briefly seem confident and excited.”

Meanwhile, students took Klamo’s advice and started to build relationships – both with each other and with their peer speakers. Browning was especially impressed by the number of students who approached her after her speech – and by the fact that they dressed in business casual attire. “It’s a great class and it’s great to see the College grow,” she said.