UC Santa Barbara’s 2021 New Student Convocation was livestreamed on Sept. 20 where campus administrators and other speakers welcomed the incoming class of freshmen and transfer students.
The speeches congratulated students on enrolling in the university, offered pieces of advice to succeed on campus and in life and emphasized the importance of community building and support — especially as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first speaker Pierre Wiltzius, executive dean of the College of Letters and Science and physics professor, encouraged students to join organizations and connect with other students outside the classroom.
“Education is so much more than what you learn inside the classroom,” Wiltzius said.
He recounted his own change of majors and encouraged students to be open-minded to change as it may take multiple tries to find one’s calling.
“Education is a process, don’t get discouraged if your first major isn’t the perfect one for you or if a new activity you try isn’t to your liking. Course corrections are an essential part of life,” Wiltzius said.
Chancellor Henry T. Yang welcomed the return back to campus and congratulated the incoming class for their admission into the university.
“You have made the best decision of your life,” Yang said of the incoming class’s decision to attend UCSB.
He introduced the campus by mentioning awards and prizes from faculty members and alumni and the No. 5 ranking in the U.S. News and World Report’s list of Top Public Schools.
“These rankings acknowledge our stature as a top-tier research institution as well as our commitment to academic excellence, diversity, equity and inclusion,” Yang said.
Yang emphasized the campus’s strong community and it being welcoming to the incoming class.
“We pride ourselves on being a campus that is inclusive, one that embraces our differences and nurtures respect without discrimination,” Yang said.
Yang encouraged students to get involved in the campus and community by joining organizations and clubs. With all of the ways to participate on campus and in the community, Yang’s piece of advice was to “learn how to budget your time.”
“If you make a mistake in budgeting your time, you cannot borrow and no one can help you,” Yang said.
Victor Rios, a sociology professor at UCSB and recent MacArthur Foundation endowment recipient, was the keynote speaker and spoke to students about the upcoming challenges and expectations of being at the university.
He challenged students to question their beliefs when confronted with a new or opposing idea and to embrace failure.
“Failure is not your final frontier; failure is a formative part of your success,” Rios said.
Rios recounted a personal experience of initial failure when receiving very negative reviews for a book he wrote after finishing his doctoral degree. He contemplated changing his career before eventually overcoming his fear and having the book published.
“It is known as one of the best ethnographies ever written in the discipline of sociology,” Rios said, including that it led the White House to invite him to advise the Obama administration on gun violence and policing.
“To transform the world, we must first transform ourselves,” he said.
A version of this article appeared on p. 5 of the Sept. 23, 2021 print edition of the Daily Nexus.