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Warm sunshine and cheering upperclassmen greeted the more than 500 new students who arrived on campus Friday.
The newest Camels - 504 members of the Class of 2016 and 17 transfer students - are a diverse and talented group that include a champion body builder, competitive rhythmic gymnast, bagpiper, trapeze artist, the goalie for the U.S. National Women's Floorball Team, two professional models, nationally ranked sailors, budding filmmakers, several state swimming champions, and many scientists and researchers, as well as a student who holds an online Sudoku record, one who climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and another who completed an open-bay swim around Alcatraz.
"There were nearly 18 applicants for each place in the class, so each student's presence here is an accomplishment of significant merit," Martha Merrill '84, dean of admission and financial aid, told students and their parents at a welcome assembly.
Merrill encouraged students to take advantage of Connecticut College's residential living and learning community by truly getting to know one another, in addition to the College's faculty and staff.
To help students get acquainted with their new classmates, she shared a few fun facts. "Your first and last names create some interesting patterns," she told them. "We have leaders of a sort with a Marshall, King (and his Castillo), Sargent, Bishop and a Dean … You are literary and deep with a Robinson, Wolfe, Fitzgerald, Burns, Scribner and Irving, along with my favorite philosopher, Schroeder. Following the literary theme, we have a Charlotte and a Bronte, a Laurence and Arabia, a Primrose but no Katniss and a Watson but no Holmes.
"And some of you were made for each other," she added. "There's a Kitchen and a couple of Potts, Beers and a Bender, a Winter for Summers (or Sommer), a Bakewell and Beans, a Rabbit and Patch and an Oh and Ngo."
Also at the welcome assembly, President Leo I. Higdon Jr. encouraged students to make connections - with each other, with the faculty and through the many learning opportunities they will have over the next four years.
"You will be shaped, changed and, more importantly, enriched by the connections you make here at Connecticut College," Higdon said.
The event kicked off a six-day orientation during which students are learning about everything from the College's Honor Code to its study abroad and internship programs. The students also will meet with their faculty advisers, take placement tests 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. And, for the first time this year, the entire class fanned out to 10 different sites in New London to complete community service projects connected to education, food security, affordable housing, environmental preservation and economic development.
"Community service/learning and civic engagement are core to the educational mission of the College and this new initiative connects students with their new home community and provides them with a glimpse of how they might learn with community members and contribute to New London," said Tracee Reiser, associate dean for community learning.
The orientation week culminates with Convocation, a meeting of the entire College community to celebrate the formal beginning of the academic year, at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 30. Debo P. Adegbile '91, acting president and director-counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, will give the keynote address.
Other fun facts about the Class of 2016 (From Dean Martha Merrill's welcome address):
- Students in the class applied to an average of eight colleges.
- For students who come from high schools that rank, 52 percent ranked in the top 10 percent; 87 ranked in the top quintile.
- Students hail from 380 different high schools in 31 states and 14 countries. The smallest high school had a senior class of 6, while the largest had 1,015 seniors.
- Top anticipated majors include psychology, biology, economics, English, international relations, history, environmental studies, government, math, biochemistry and behavioral neuroscience.
- 19 percent of the class is made up of domestic students of color.
- 32 students are children or grandchildren of Connecticut College alumni.
- 14 percent of the class is made up of first generation college students.
- Members of the class speak dozens of languages, including Urdu, Serbo-Croatian, Greek, Czech, Spanish, Chinese, Portuguese, Kirundi, Arabic, Kashmiri, Nepali, Korean and Hindi.
- The most popular first names are Katherine (with a K and a C), Daniel, Samantha, Olivia and Anna.