Scores of newly-minted underclassmen came together to attend the University’s Academic Welcome address on Wednesday, Sept. 7. This event was one of several programs to welcome and debrief students on the resources available to help acclimate oneself to life at Monmouth.
At the beginning of the program, Associate Provost, Susan Forquer Gupta, Ph.D., greeted the audience and introduced Monmouth’s President, Patrick Leahy, Ed.D., to the stage. Leahy said, “I am sure some of you have questions and, as is the purpose of this welcome, we are here to provide answers. For starters, you may be asking yourself, ‘How do I get to the beach from campus?’” As audience members chuckled, Leahy continued, “There are few schools that can say they are this close to the Jersey Shore, and just as few who are as committed to your individual, collegiate success.”
Leahy and his administration were accompanied by faculty and staff across the University’s schools and centers. Following Leahy, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, Pamela Scott-Johnson, Ph.D., addressed the class of 2026. “As is indicative of your class demographics, none of you fit into boxes— you are not your major or where your come from, you are you,” said Scott-Johnson. Per Leahy’s introductory email to the University on Sept. 6, “More than 30 percent of the Class of 2026 comes to West Long Branch from outside the state of New Jersey, representing 22 U.S. states and eight foreign countries. This marks the greatest geographic diversity in our history.” Even during the program, this was a point of pride for the University.
After the Deans of each school were introduced, along with other University administrators and campus leaders, the session closed, dismissing students to their respective schools’ welcome sessions. Each school held its own session to discuss in greater detail the resources and personnel available to assist students in achieving their academic, professional, and personal development goals.
Elisa Ramos, a senior biology student and Head Freshman Orientation Leader, was heavily involved in fostering an inclusive environment for the new freshman class, which included encouraging and directing students to their respective school sessions. Ramos started, “Interacting with first years is genuinely exciting. I enjoy introducing them into Monmouth because I know I had the warmest welcome as a freshman, and I want to share that with others…I also understand a lot of their worries as an upperclassman, so it’s nice knowing that I can ease their anxieties by sharing my own experiences,” said Ramos.
Another student leader, Lindsay Amendola, a senior education student and Peer Mentor Coordinator for the School of Science, felt similarly to Ramos. “It felt surreal to welcome the new freshmen students as an upperclassman; feels like just yesterday that I was their shoes attending these events,” emphasized Amendola.
Both Ramos and Amendola agreed that there is a plethora of information new students should take advantage of as they become more acquainted with Monmouth.
“The journey to getting your degree is not a solo mission. There are so many people on campus that are here to support you. If you are struggling in class, there is an entire Center for Student Success that has everything imaginable to help with studying, time management, papers, etc. Professors strive to help their students succeed in and outside of the classroom,” stressed Ramos.
Amendola added, “As a freshman, I was afraid to go to office hours, believing my professors would think less of me; however, I know now that my perception was not only wrong, but attending a professor’s office hours also show that you will do what it takes to succeed in the class.”
Mercedes Concepcion, a senior business student and ENACTUS E-Board Member, was volunteering during the Leon Hess Business School’s individual academic session. She said, “My advice to current freshmen is to get out of your comfort zone. As cliché as it sounds, do it. Raise your hand and ask the professor. Get to know your school’s faculty. Visit your advisor and learn as much as you can about your academic audit. Go to club meetings. Embrace your inner leader and speak up for yourself and others when something doesn’t feel right. Most importantly, be you.”
Besides mentioning all of the resources at students’ disposal, Leahy closed the University’s program by saying, “Your whole life is ahead of you— family, kids, successful careers…so I won’t stand here and say that these will be the best four years of your life in the four years you are here at Monmouth. However, I am certain they will be an incredibly special four years, full of personal development and lifelong memories.”