Incoming class of freshmen familiarize themselves with campus resources
Across the nation, thousands of freshmen will mark a rite of passage this month, standing in that liminal space between what lies behind and what awaits ahead—between the familiar past and the unpredictable future. As Davis and Rian Wakefield helped their daughter, Shalei Parong, check in to the Hale Pohaku dormitory during New Student Orientation, they felt a mix of emotions: sadness, worry and excitement.
“At least she’s close to home,” said Davis Wakefield, a firefighter with the Hawaii Fire Department based in Kona. “This is her choice to come here, and we support her decision; it’s a new chapter of her life.”
Writing their own stories was a key theme in Chaminade President Dr. Lynn Babington’s welcoming message to incoming students during the Academic Convocation at the Mamiya Theater. Another one of her keynotes involved the principles of a holistic, Marianist education, focused on service, justice, peace, adaptation and change.
“You’ve chosen to attend a warm and welcoming liberal arts University,” Babington told students. “You will form bonds here, and you’ll delve new ways of thinking and discerning who you are and who you want to be.”
Mandatory for all freshmen and transfers, the New Student Orientation (NSO) is designed to acquaint new students with the campus and the many available campus resources that enhance both academic success and personal development. Orientation activities focus on several important areas, including the curriculum, academic advising, college success, scholarships and financial aid, campus activities, student services, student organizations, Silversword Spirit and campus facilities.
“As I look into the audience, I see the many incoming college students who are unsure about what the future holds, already starting to feel homesick, thinking whether you made the right decision or not,” said Chaminade Student Government Association President Pamela Oda in her address to fellow students at the Academic Convocation. “College is a chapter in your life that involves the word that many people dread—change. Be open to the change and new experiences, don’t fight it!”
Freshman Jordan Ponsar ’27 said he was “stoked” when he was offered a soccer scholarship to attend Chaminade. The Long Island, N.Y., native was quick to make friends on move-in day, helping resident assistants, Kelsey Sablan ’23 and Micah Sanders ’24 at the check-in desk in the lobby of Hale Pohaku co-ed dorm.
“I’m going to make the most of my four years here,” said Ponsar, flashing the shaka sign. “This is all new so I look forward to all the future opportunities and experiences.”
In his opening comments, Senate Faculty President Dr. David Carter rhetorically asked, “Do you know what you’ve gotten yourselves into?” His question elicited some nervous laughter from the audience, but his answer was simple. “You’ve enrolled in a university where we want to get to know you,” said the Director and Professor of Forensic Sciences. “Being in the classroom with students is my happiest time of the week. I hope you learn from me as much as I learn from you.”
Navigating a successful collegial life is not always easy, especially during freshman year when everything seems foreign and unfamiliar. Yet Chaminade’s ‘ohana spirit provides a comfortable and safe environment that makes it easier for students to explore. Students are encouraged to step out of their comfort zones, to be curious, to embrace adaptation and to try something new.
“You are here because we see in you the potential for transformation through higher education and the opportunity to live an examined life in service to yourself and your community,” said Dr. Lance Askildson, Chaminade Provost and Chief Academic Officer. “This is, in truth, an exhilarating yet also quite challenging inflection-point in your life. You will struggle and even fail at times to achieve your goals—and that is OK. We are all here, as a community of faculty, staff and administrators, to support you and your journey.”
In her concluding remarks, Oda offered some sage advice. “As you start this new chapter in life, be open to experiencing new things and opportunities because you never know what could happen,” she advised. “As you meet new people, keep in mind that everyone comes from different walks of life and may not have experienced the same things you have. Each of you has your own unique story, embrace it. Once again, welcome to the Silversword ‘Ohana and SWORDS UP!”