The fourth annual New Student Academic Convocation, held on September 5, welcomed new undergraduate and graduate students to New York Tech. More than 250 students joined the virtual event to celebrate the beginning of the fall semester at watch parties on the Long Island and New York City campuses.
Tiffani Hinds, M.Ed., associate provost of student engagement and development, served as host and emcee of the event, which featured inspiring talks from New York Tech’s leadership team, Student Government Association (SGA) presidents, and alumni. The speakers recounted personal journeys and offered advice, sharing one recurring theme: the New York Tech community is here and eager to help each student succeed.
Yamini Patel, SGA president for the Long Island campus, spoke about her connections with professors, advisors, and supervisors who have supported her academically and emotionally. Her friends and peers come from different backgrounds with unique perspectives, allowing her to learn new things each day and find a sense of belonging.
“Some days will be like lavender haze, and some days will be classic black and white, but I hope in between all these colors you find your own beautiful rainbow,” she said. “As you step foot on campus, you become a part of a diverse and inclusive community of doers, makers, innovators, and healers that embrace intellectual curiosity and foster personal growth.”
Next, President Hank Foley, Ph.D., congratulated the new class. “The first future that you get to reinvent is your own future,” he said. He urged students to start right away, “this week,” by reaching out to professors to build connections, participate in research, and find opportunities.
“Never say I can’t do something. Always say, I can’t do it yet,” he emphasized. “Realize that you have the opportunity to grow and change...Make mistakes, try things, pick yourself up, and get back at it. Because honestly, that’s what life is mostly about.”
As New York Tech is among the best schools in the country for return on investment, according to Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, President Foley shared its commitment to help students succeed. “If you put in the time and you put in the effort, you’re going to get through this, get to the other side, and have a different kind of life than you would have had otherwise.”
Jerry Balentine,D.O., provost and executive vice president, spoke about how faculty will play a big part in students’ academic careers, that some professors can offer opportunities to work as researchers, while others are great teachers or are working professionals who are experts in their fields with practical experiences. “We’re here to help all of you. Your success is important to us, and it is important to me,” he said, adding that in addition to academic success, he hopes to see students grow as individuals. “Study academics but also the world around you.”
Balentine asked students to “commit to a greater good that you can be part of...Our programs are meant to help you find a fulfilling life and a fulfilling career.”
Alumni Encourage Students to Find Their Purpose
Two alumni recounted how their New York Tech experiences set them up for personal and professional success.
Marc Xu (B.S. ’16), taxonomy analyst at Semsee, an insurance technology start-up, shared his journey, seeking guidance from faculty, staff, and fellow classmates and ultimately changing his major and career goals to match his passions. He told students that success is not defined by a grade point average, a job title, or how much money you make in a year. Through his experiences, he “learned that college is about finding your purpose and dedicating yourself to a cause that stirs your soul. I ask you to follow your heart, chase your dreams, and let your unique voice be heard.”
As a minority in school, while growing up, he was not exposed to different cultures and beliefs until he came to New York Tech. “Here at New York Tech, you will engage in conversations that challenge your perspectives, help you to grow intellectually, and become part of a more inclusive and empathetic community. I implore you to embrace the opportunity to learn from people who came from different walks of life, for in doing so, you will broaden your understanding of the world and build friendships that overcome cultural boundaries.”
Gabriela Rodriguez (B.S. ’13), chief executive officer of Impact Hub in Stockholm, Sweden, talked about her experience as an international student-athlete from Mexico. Her love of tennis became her gateway to education and New York Tech, where she found her lifelong friends and partner, as well as her calling toward civic engagement through her participation at New York Tech’s Community Service Centers and studying human behavior.
Her advice to new students: “Be open to change. Sometimes, things don’t go according to plan. It is those who are able to adapt to new realities that will thrive. Don’t be afraid to explore various interests and develop new skills. Everything you do and learn contributes to your personal growth.”
Principles of Community
Ali Gedawi, SGA president for the New York City campus, then led the students in reading the Principles of Community that will guide their experience at New York Tech.
Hinds closed the ceremony by challenging students to take advantage of all opportunities at New York Tech. “Balance your time well…develop healthy and long-lasting relationships with classmates and be sure to attend programs and events [at New York Tech].