At age 14, a member of the Class of 2027 climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. Another co-authored two poetry books published in three languages. A third designed a computer keyboard that helps people with repetitive strain injuries. These are only some of the many accomplishments the newest Gettysburgians have brought with them to Gettysburg College on their first day of Orientation.
Since the moment they received their acceptance letters, the Class of 2027 has prepared for this day. Traveling from 33 states and 34 countries, this incoming class of 610 students, which includes 105 international students, was selected from a competitive pool of a record 7,123 applications. From nearly 70% of the class participating in community service to half holding leadership positions in high school, they arrived ready to Do Great Work as they embark on their journey toward A Consequential Education.
Move-In, Opening Convocation encourages building ‘empowering relationships’
On Move-In Day on Wednesday, Aug. 23, Orientation student leaders, the Residential Education team, and College staff, bedecked in orange and blue, greeted first-year students and their families with open arms, helping unload vehicles filled to the brim with room decor, clothing, and mementos from home.
Throughout the day, College offices from the Center for Student Success to the Center for Career Engagement invited the Class of 2027 to meet-and-greets to learn about the opportunities and resources available in the upcoming academic year. Following lunch at Servo, the College’s Dining Center, students assembled in their Orientation groups to discuss living and learning together in our community, while parents and families attended information sessions designed to help them best support their students during their first year at Gettysburg.
To conclude their first day on campus, the Class of 2027 took part in the 192nd Convocation in front of Pennsylvania Hall. On behalf of Gettysburg’s student body, Student Senate President Drew Lemon ’24 welcomed the class, sharing a lesson about connections and growth that he learned from one of his mentors, Public Policy Prof. Charles Pede:
“Who you are as a person and how you treat others is the pinnacle to your success. There is no substitute for hard work,” Lemon said. “It’s the relationships that will define your Gettysburg experience and enhance you as an individual. These empowering relationships will give you the confidence to steer through your college experience with a very clear and meaningful purpose. … Allow yourself to get on the boat and sail freely, knowing that in moments when the winds pick up, as they so often do in life, you will have the relationships you’ve forged here at Gettysburg as your anchor.”
Economics Prof. Rimvydas (Rim) Baltaduonis addressed the class next, emphasizing the power of choice that began with their decision to attend Gettysburg College. As they learn to balance their academic, co-curricular, and personal lives, Baltaduonis assured them that the College community will support them.
“Class of 2027, when you pass through Penn Hall today, take a moment to register the feeling you carry with you. You will want to compare this to the feeling you will experience four years from now when you pass back [through Penn Hall] during your graduation. May that future feeling shock even the most ambitious amongst you for how much you’ve learned, for what you’ve attempted to achieve, for the strength of bonds you’ve developed with your Gettysburg family.”
“As Gettysburgians, we step forward when the world needs us most. … We see the promise in you to take a ‘giant leap’ during your time at Gettysburg—to embrace this moment of change and become the person all of us believe you can be.”
– Gettysburg College President Bob Iuliano
Following Baltaduonis, Gettysburg College President Bob Iuliano began his remarks to the Class of 2027 by thanking their parents and families for entrusting Gettysburg with their students. He then turned to the newest members of the College community, advising them to harness the power of curiosity, embrace a change in perspective, and cultivate a sense of service to something greater than oneself.
“As Gettysburgians, we step forward when the world needs us most,” he said. “By stepping forward for others, you will also deepen your understanding of this extraordinary world in which you’re a part; and you’ll develop the knowledge and enduring skills to contribute to our world ethically and effectively.”
Iuliano described the moment when NASA captured the first photo of Earth from the orbit of its moon on Aug. 23, 1966, 57 years ago to the day, and acknowledged India’s spacecraft landing on the moon on Aug. 23, 2023. These historic events, he said, serve as guideposts for how members of the Class of 2027 could approach their next four years at Gettysburg—with a commitment to rising to the challenges and opportunities of our time. He encouraged them to get involved in the myriad of opportunities that await them at Gettysburg, including the new Guided Pathways. Nearly 75% of first-year students are participating in the Guided Pathways, through which they’ll work with their Personal Advising Teams to select the experiences they wish to pursue and build upon during the next four years of their Gettysburg education.
“We see the promise in you to take a ‘giant leap’ during your time at Gettysburg—to embrace this moment of change and become the person all of us believe you can be,” Iuliano said.
Following the proclamation of matriculation and recitation of the Honor Code led by new Provost Jamila Bookwala, the Class of 2027 ascended the stairs of Pennsylvania Hall’s Beachem Portico and through the historic building’s open doors, a walk symbolizing the students’ first steps taken together as members of the Gettysburg College community.
First-Year Walk encourages students to make their own ‘imprint’ on Gettysburg’s enduring legacy
On Thursday, Aug. 24, as members of the Class of 2027 began their second full day at Gettysburg, they participated in a Gettysburg College tradition. Students followed in the footsteps of Gettysburgians who, 160 years ago, became part of an event that would forever connect Gettysburg College with a consequential event in our nation’s history.
The First-Year Walk commemorates the walk students and faculty of the College took on Nov. 19, 1863. On that day, they joined members of the Gettysburg community who accompanied President Abraham Lincoln through the town to the dedication for Gettysburg National Cemetery. During this dedication, Lincoln delivered his enduring Gettysburg Address.
This year marks the 160th anniversary of the cemetery’s dedication, and the Class of 2027 is the 20th class at Gettysburg College to participate in this tradition, conceived by Lindsay Morlock ’04 for Orientation in 2003.
The cloud-covered skies above Gettysburg on the August evening couldn’t shroud students’ motivation as they set out from Christ Chapel in the middle of campus. They united on a path traveled by thousands of Gettysburgians before them down Baltimore Street into historic Lincoln Square. Members of the student body joined Gettysburg residents, business owners, and visitors to the town in extending cheers and well wishes as members of the Class of 2027 made their way to Gettysburg National Cemetery.
Their journey took them through the cemetery, where they solemnly looked upon the final resting place for thousands of soldiers from the Civil War and other conflicts in American history.
The walk culminated along Cemetery Ridge at Gettysburg National Military Park, next to the headquarters used by Union Gen. George Meade during the three-day Battle of Gettysburg. There, Student Orientation Coordinator Antoinette Chango ’24 asked the class to pause and look around. She pointed out battlefield landmarks such as Little Round Top in the distance and the Pennsylvania Memorial, encouraging them to reflect on the sacrifices of those who lost their lives here and the challenge President Lincoln delivered to commit themselves to the “unfinished work” remaining before them.
Gettysburg’s mayor, the Hon. Rita C. Frealing, extended her welcome from the Borough of Gettysburg and presented a key to the city to Jack Thompson ’27 of Camden Wyoming, Delaware, on behalf of the Class of 2027. Following this presentation, President Iuliano introduced Political Science Prof. Lindsay Reid ’11. Addressing the class, she reflected on the moment she embarked on her Gettysburg education 16 years ago. She prompted students to think about Gettysburg’s people—the future friends, classmates, professors, mentors, and community they’d call their own over the next four years—and Gettysburg as a place that remains an indelible part of the collective American conscience.
“What is so striking about Gettysburg and this space that you have chosen for your college journey is that it simultaneously represents one of the most violent moments in the history of this nation, and it also represents what it means to rebuild and come together,” Reid said. “The peace that exists around us … exists because of the continual yet unfinished work of generations striving to move beyond the conflict of our past and endeavoring to build a more just future for all.”
“Gettysburg’s own history reminds us to expect the unexpected. Be open to new people, new classes, new lessons, and new opportunities.”
– Political Science Prof. Lindsay Reid ’11
She offered the class lessons about Gettysburg that they could take with them as they prepared to begin their consequential education here:
“Your collegiate journey is likely to be marked by the same stark contrasts that we witness here today. … Success and failure are not a dichotomy, nor do they define one in perpetuity. Success for you—just like peace for Gettysburg and this nation—is a continuous and non-linear process. Gettysburg’s own history reminds us to expect the unexpected. Be open to new people, new classes, new lessons, and new opportunities.”
Before she proclaimed the words to Lincoln’s immortal Gettysburg Address on this hallowed ground, Reid reminded the students that in order “to move beyond the unfathomable, to achieve the unimaginable, and to build life anew, we must work together. In four years, the imprint you’ve made on Gettysburg will only add to the lore of this remarkable place.”
By Michael Vyskocil
Photos by Hang Lian, Kailey White '21 and Casey Martin Photography