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Connecticut College welcomes new students

Just a few days after a tropical storm delayed their arrival, Connecticut College's newest students - 509 members of the Class of 2015 and 30 transfer students - arrived this morning to balloons, banners and busy excitement. View a slide show of Arrival Day 2011.

At a welcome assembly, Martha Merrill '84, dean of admission and financial aid, said the newest Camels include a national curling champion, an origami artist, a glockenspiel player, a nationally ranked squash player, a roller coaster enthusiast, a military artifact collector, a competitive Pokemon player and a former world Irish step dance champion. With Connecticut College in the midst of its Centennial celebration, Merrill compared the Class of 2015 with the College's first class, which matriculated in 1915. This year's class hails from 29 states and 16 countries, including Afghanistan, China, France, Finland, Colombia, Latvia, Malaysia Tunisia and Thailand, she said, while the College's original class of 163 was made up almost entirely of Connecticut students (with one pioneering woman who traveled all the way from Texas). And the original students were all women and all white - a sharp contrast to today's diverse group of co-eds, 17 percent of whom are domestic students of color.

Merrill also pointed out a few fun facts about the class. "Your first and last names create some interesting patterns," she told the new students. "We have the beginnings of a fast-food dynasty, as there is a Pickel, a Berger, a Hamburger and a Macdonald - but alas no Fries. There's a Cook - and what will they make of Kidney, Rice, Coffee and Crust?"

She added that several students had "colorful" last names, including Brown, Brunette, Gray, Green, Goldsmith, Redstone and Tan, and that others paid homage to U.S. Presidents with names like Jefferson, Jackson, Adams, Madison and Taylor.

Also at the assembly, President Leo I. Higdon Jr. welcomed what he called an "exceptional group" of new students. "Your admission materials reveal outstanding accomplishments, academically and personally," he said. "You have set the bar very high for yourselves and, frankly, much will be expected of you here."

The event kicked off a four-day orientation during which students will learn about everything from the College's Honor Code to its study abroad and internship programs. The students will also meet with their faculty advisers, take placement tests, learn about community service opportunities and get to know their classmates at a variety of social events, like the annual "Batch Blast," a social gathering and picnic established by an anonymous donor in honor of Esther Batchelder '19.

The orientation week culminates with the Centennial Convocation, a meeting of the entire College community to celebrate the formal beginning of the academic year. Centennial Convocation is Tuesday, Sept. 6, at 4 p.m. in Palmer Auditorium. Tiana Hercules, a 2004 Connecticut College graduate and attorney with the Center for Medicare Advocacy Inc., will give the keynote address, "A Gift and a Responsibility: Bridging the Spirit of Liberal Arts and Social Justice."

Other fun facts about the Class of 2015 (From Dean Martha Merrill's welcome address):

- The class was chosen from a near-record 5,242 applicants.

- Students in the class applied to an average of nine colleges.

- For students who come from high schools that rank, 56 percent ranked in the top 10 percent; 89 ranked in the top quintile.

- Students hail from 390 different high schools. The smallest had a senior class of 6, while the largest had 950 seniors. - Top anticipated majors include psychology, biological sciences, English, international relations, economics, history, environmental studies, government, math and biochemistry.

- 21 students are children or grandchildren of Connecticut College alumni.

- 15 percent of the class is made up of first generation college students. - Members of the class speak dozens of languages, including Somali, Bengali, Japanese, Chinese, Gujurati, Vietnamese, Arabic, Tagalog, Russian, Korean, Hungarian and Hebrew.

- The most popular first names are Sarah (or Sara), Michael, Caroline and James.

September 1, 2011