University President Jim Ryan and Medical School alumna Dr. Vivian Pinn, renowned physician and women’s health champion, delivered motivations words at the University’s Sunday evening on the Lawn to incoming first years and transfer students during the opening convocation and Honor induction ceremony.
Ryan told students “when in doubt, build a bridge,” encouraging them to foster deep and lasting connections throughout their time at the University. He also touched on his newness as president, having taken on the role just weeks ago on Aug. 1, though he graduated from the U.Va. School of Law in 1992 and served on the faculty for 15 years.
Ryan said he wants to meet undergraduates during their time on Grounds, emphasizing that they should introduce themselves if they ever see him walking through the University.
“If you see me on the Lawn, I would love all of you to say hi, unless you’re seeing me late at night,” he joked, alluding to the University students’ time-honored tradition of streaking the Lawn before graduation.
Ryan was followed later in the ceremony by Pinn, who said that she has faith in this next generation of “physicians, researchers and policymakers.” She noted that the Class of 2022, with utilization of the right tools, could provide a bright future.
Pinn is a 1967 University School of Medicine graduate, and was the only woman and African-American student in her class. After becoming a physician and feminist activist, Pinn became the first director of the Office of Research on Women’s Health at the National Institutes of Health. She is also the namesake for newly-renovated and renamed Pinn Hall — formerly Jordan Hall for the former Medical School Dean Harvey Jordan, a prominent eugenicist.
Pinn touched on her time at the University in her remarks, noting that she at first “felt very alone and very different” when she arrived on Grounds.
“Then, two classmates who I had never met reached out to me and invited me to join their anatomy lab group,” Pinn said. “It was a gesture of reassurance, that perhaps I could belong at U.Va., that perhaps these guys would help me to do so. I have never forgotten that moment in my life. Small gestures of kindness and outreach can make a difference in a life, as it did for me.”
First-year College student Georgia White said she felt welcomed to the University after the Convocation ceremony.
“Despite the heat, when Convocation came to a close, it was clear the Class of 2022 had arrived and I couldn’t be more excited to start the year with them,” she said.
Convocation ended with a rendition of the “Good Ol’ Song,” the University’s de facto anthem. Many first-year students read the lyrics off of a sheet of paper left in their seat along with a nickel — imprinted with the face of Thomas Jefferson, the University’s founder — provided by the University’s Alumni Association, minted this year.
Alex Cintron, a fourth-year College student and Student Council president, and Kevin Warshaw, a fourth-year Engineering student and University Judiciary Committee chair, also spoke at Saturday’s ceremony.
Cintron highlighted the importance of student self-governance to the University, stating that it is “not just about committees and organizations.”
“It’s about being there for each other. Being a good friend. Picking someone up when they are down. Knowing that you belong here and you get to define what your place here will be,” he said.
At the close of the ceremonies, students were invited to sign the honor pledge on the Lawn, committing themselves to the standard of honor and integrity that the University upholds. By writing their names, the students promise never to lie, cheat or steal during their time on Grounds.
Medical student and Honor Committee Chair Ory Streeter provided a few words about what the honor code meant to him as a member of the University community.
“The Honor Code is a bridge for our future, part of the ethical training that encourages us to practice a purposeful existence,” he said.
Kieran McMahon, a first-year College student that signed the Honor scroll after attending Convocation, said that the act was a “cool way to feel connected to the community as a whole,” and that it made her excited about “all the new experiences and relationships these next few years will bring.”
Caelan Shawyer, a first-year College student from Norfolk, said that “it wasn’t until attending convocation that [he] realized the special kind of university” that he’d be attending this Fall semester.
“Through the introductions and charismatic speeches given by the University officials, I realized how lucky I was to be attending a university with such a rich history and amazing dedicated professors,” Shawyer said.