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NewsSep 5, 2019

Convocation welcomes Class of 2023 with encouragement and fun

Students urged to reach out to others, explore the passions that become careers and define their own greatness

Students outside the church getting ready for Convocation

Like President Janet Steinmayer, hundreds of members of our Class of 2023 came together yesterday in the First Church of Cambridge for their first Lesley University Undergraduate Student Convocation, an encouraging, informative and at times amusing affair.

In discussing the educational and cultural enticements on campus and off, President Steinmayer alluded to the city of Somerville’s annual Fluff Fest, a celebration of peanut butter’s homegrown whipped-marshmallow sidekick with at least one stunning “off-label” use:

“You can even style your hair with Fluff, I understand,” the president quipped, adding that our Doble Campus would be hosting a stage hypnotist and outdoor movie night this week. In addition, students year-round can avail themselves of ice cream and enjoy a pizza that takes only 90 seconds to cook in our new Washburn Hall dining commons.

President Steinmayer at the podium addressing the audience at Convocation
President Steinmayer welcomed students and shared advice at her first Lesley Convocation.

But the messages weren’t all fluff (or Fluff). Provost Margaret Everett validated the trepidation of students entering their new environment, some of whom might doubt their readiness, yet urged them, “Find the people who can help you, and ask for their help, and be prepared to accept that help.” 

Lesley, she added, is an “amazing community” and “committed to your success.”


“This is a place where you’ll transform your passion into a career. This is what Lesley is.”
President Janet Steinmayer

President Steinmayer, who took the helm of the university in July, expressed her kinship with the new students.

“This is your first Lesley University Convocation, and it’s mine, too,” said the president who, as parent of a Threshold Program alumnus and a former university trustee, is no Lesley neophyte. “I first came to Lesley as a parent, and I was so impressed by my son’s marvelous experience here that I was inspired to get more involved. I became an advisory council member and then I joined our Board of Trustees.”

Get involved

Several speakers urged our newest students to reflect president’s own commitment to getting more involved with Lesley.

Man at a podium speaking to an audience at an academic ceremony inside a church
Chief Diversity Officer Lilu Barbosa inspired at Convocation 2019.

Chief Diversity Officer Amarildo ‘Lilu’ Barbosa challenged students to “maintain the mindset of possibility.” By trying new things and pushing their own limits, Barbosa added, “Your greatness will always be defined by you.

“When you graduate in a few years, your greatness will be needed out there.”

Michael Dussault, Undergraduate Student Government president, added, “It is vital to get involved … but I also believe it is important to make time for yourself. … Don’t be afraid to take risks and make connections with people unlike yourself.”

Similarly, Leah Craig, assistant professor of Integrated Studies in our College of Art and Design, told students, “Stay open to the opportunity of working with someone, and learning from someone, who is different from you.”

As students are also embarking on the first stage of their professional life, Craig added that the connections they make at Lesley will pay dividends in their working life. What’s more, the Class of 2023 is especially suited to the benefits of such collaboration.

“Today’s students refuse to be passive learners,” she said. “… Instead, you expect to be fully engaged as part of a collaborative learning process” in and out of the classroom and studio.

An overhead photo of an audience in a church at Convocation 2019
Convocation 2019

And, as President Steinmayer said earlier in offering numerous examples of the possible life trajectories open to Lesley students and alumni, “This is a place where you’ll transform your passion into a career. This is what Lesley is.”