New students told to embrace diversity, be proud and challenge yourself

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Block addresses students in Pauley
Chancellor Gene Block welcomes new students in Pauley Pavilion.
Enthusiasm and optimism were in the hearts and minds of thousands of incoming UCLA students representing 54 countries, 44 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam at this afternoon’s annual UCLA New Student Welcome.
 
The first to formally welcome the students in Pauley Pavilion was Youlonda Copeland-Morgan, UCLA's associate vice chancellor for enrollment management, who spoke of the lengths UCLA took to recruit this class of high-achieving thinkers and leaders. "New Student Welcome is a celebration of the start of your UCLA career," she said. "You are Bruins now — part of the Bruin family — and this is the beginning of time that includes endless opportunities for you."
 
These students come to UCLA with serious bragging rights, said Chancellor Gene Block, noting that they were selected from a record-breaking pool of nearly 100,000 applicants.
 
"From that daunting number of applicants, we had to make really difficult decisions in order to produce…. a truly stellar incoming class of top achievers consisting of 5,700 first-year students and 2,900 transfer students," said Block. "You represent the best of the very best, or you wouldn’t be sitting here today."
 
Roughly 75 percent of the incoming class hails from California, said Block, noting that this demonstrates UCLA’s commitment to providing an excellent education for Californian residents. In addition, 28 percent of this year’s freshman and transfer students come from underrepresented minorities, while 30 percent come from low-income families and 38 percent are the first in their families to attend a four-year university.
 
"We believe strongly that geographic, social, economic, cultural and ethnic diversity contributes powerfully to the quality of the educational experience here at UCLA," said Block. "The diversity you’ll experience here on campus, the diversity you’ll experience in the dynamic, global city which we call Los Angeles and the diversity you’ll experience if you’re able to participate in the many study abroad opportunities we offer … all of these experiences will equip you to compete, collaborate and succeed in the global marketplace after graduation."
 
The audience also heard from John Joanino, president of the Undergraduate Students Association Council, who spoke of his own experience as a student and the growth he has experienced personally and academically at UCLA. He encouraged students to get involved with campus life and reminded them that much learning can be done outside the formal structures of a classroom setting.
 
"UCLA has an unparalleled diversity of education," Joanino said. "It gives you the opportunity to learn about new communities and the broader experience of your peers, to establish understanding of the world around us. Being at UCLA helped me piece the puzzle of my life together."
 
Chris Waterman, dean of the School of the Arts and Architecture, detailed his father’s experience as a UCLA student in the early 1930s and said that college is a time to learn about yourself and other people and places through food, art, music and culture. There’s no better place to do that than in Los Angeles, said Waterman: "The experiences you can have here in Los Angeles and UCLA make this an extremely special place to be."
 
The event wrapped with incoming student Chris Hunter’ s rendition of the UCLA Alma Mater, which resulted in thunderous applause, and a spirited 8-clap led by the UCLA Spirit Squad. Afterward, students moved to the Intramural Field for a buffet dinner, entertainment and conversation.
 
The day of welcome for new students included the Enormous Activities Fair on Wilson Plaza, where members of clubs and other organized groups on campus provided information and invited students to take part. More than 500 groups were scheduled to participate. In a separate event on Bruin Plaza, new transfer students were invited to exchange t-shirts from their previous college for a new UCLA shirt.
 
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