While summer vacation faced its final hours, students and faculty returned last night to ring in the upcoming school year.
Beginning outside of Minges Coliseum, first-time East Carolina students were ushered into the New Student and Welcome Convocation surrounded by sororities, chanting and holding signs that read, “Welcome class of 2020”.
High energy followed students into the coliseum as they listened to opening remarks made by Virginia Hardy, the vice chancellor of Student Affairs, Student Government Association President Ryan Beasley and Chancellor Cecil Staton, ultimately leading up to this year’s keynote speaker, Greg Morin.
Morin, an East Carolina University alumnus who turned CEO of P1 Performance Group, moved on after graduation to eventually work with big names in NASCAR such as Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
“I never would have thought [that] I’d be talking to you guys,” said Morin as he rolled up his sleeves and hopped off the stage. “There are a couple of things that are going to happen [during your freshman year].”
He said for students to be successful over the course of the next four years, they would have to connect, engage, motivate and finish strong. Morin also urged students to do the same three things he impresses upon his players as a coach: get uncomfortable, get right and win the day.
“Don’t diminish the ability to get uncomfortable,” Morin said. “The struggle is real. It is one of those things that you can endure during this entire adventure called college. Struggle. Stand on it. Embrace it.”
Morin topped off the speech by once again encouraging students to “win the day”. “Winning is standing up and moving forward,” Morin said.
For one student, Morin’s words gave him the push he needed to accept ECU as his new home.
“[Morin] inspired me to stay here and try my hardest,” said freshman biology major Sean Saienni. “At first I wasn’t sure if this was really the college for me and I was going to think about dropping it or going somewhere else second semester but now that I’ve gotten that motivation, I’m planning on finishing school here.”
After the closing remarks of convocation were made, students made their way to the 16th annual welcome back celebration, Pirate Palooza, among a crowd of cheerleaders, dance team and marching band members.
The Pirate Nation hypemen led the way to Dowdy-Ficklen where students were greeted with pirate-themed prizes, free food and bounce house games.
Nick Whitlock, a freshman intended nursing major, who had just gotten off of one of the bounce houses, admired the fact that these attractions were still relevant at his age.
“I saw a lot of people my age or higher getting on [the bounce house] too,” Whitlock said. “I’m not the only one who’s still a child at heart and that’s nice to see.”
Whitlock said the event was a great way to start off his year and calm his nerves before the first day of classes.
“I think it’s a great opportunity to meet new people and finally figure out how good ECU is at putting together social activities and whatnot,” Whitlock said. “I love going out and I’m actually really glad they put this together because it gives you an idea of how good and welcoming of a college ECU really is.”