A cellist who performed at the White House. A page for the United States Senate who watched history in the making. A scientist who researched E. coli and Lyme disease, an archeologist who dug at an ancient Puebloan site in Colorado, and an athlete who started the first women’s soccer team at her high school in Nepal—these are the stories of five members from the incoming class.
Officially welcomed to campus on Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019, the Class of 2023 has already demonstrated a drive to shape their future and make an impact, a trait shared by their new community of Gettysburgians.
As Abraham Lincoln said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”
This quotation provided the groundwork for this year’s Orientation. It was printed on the T-shirts for nearly 250 volunteers on Move-In Day, and was woven into speeches during Wednesday’s Convocation ceremony.
Watch the Convocation ceremony
Gettysburg College welcomed 690 members in the Class of 2023 and 14 transfer students, which were selected from nearly 6,000 applications and hailed from 26 states, 12 countries, and Puerto Rico.
During Convocation, the newest members of our community heard from Provost Christopher Zappe, Public Policy Prof. Anne Douds, Student Orientation Coordinator Julianna Pestretto ’21, and Iuliano.
As part of the formal ceremony, students matriculated into the College and processed through Penn Hall to symbolize the beginning of their academic experience here, one that Pestretto identified as “a blank canvas” with the utmost potential.
“Explore each corner; know it as your own,” Pestretto said. “Realize its potential. Moonwalk over its floors. Slide as far as you can. Have fun. Gettysburg is truly a place where you can come into your own, but it is what you make of it. Don’t hesitate to ask the most of it in order to make the best of it.”
“There will be few times in your lives when you are given such broad latitude to explore who you are and what interests you,” Iuliano added. “It would be easy to play it safe—to focus on those things you already know you do well. But that would be selling yourself short.”
“Try different courses. Join that club. Volunteer in a community activity. Much of life’s path is serendipitous. You may find an unexpected lifelong passion simply by being open to exploration.”
That path of exploration can be traced back 156 years, described Douds. It was on Nov. 19, 1863, that Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address with the intent to “heal, encourage, and inspire,” to achieve the “unfinished work” ahead of us—to do great work.
“Incredible things happen here,” Douds said. “President Lincoln recognized that there is something powerful about being here—in this place. Of Lincoln’s 272 words, he used the word ‘here’ nine times.”
“Take advantage of all that we can offer,” Douds continued. “Because we are so excited to get to know you, and we cannot wait to see where you will go from here.”
The first year for Gettysburgians features endless opportunities to get involved and make an impact—and you can start on day one.
“The future is in your hands, Class of 2023, ” Iuliano concluded. “Let’s create a great future together at Gettysburg College.”
View photos from Move-In Day and Convocation on Flickr.
By Megan Miller
Photos by Shawna Sherrell, Peter Francis '21, and Kailey White '21.