Many members of the Olin community spent the summer creating plans that would allow us to safely bring students to campus. Wednesday and Thursday were move-in days for the Olin Class of 2024, and the students living on campus will be joined by about a dozen of their classmates remotely. The occasionally rainy weather did not dampen the smiling eyes shining above the masks of the students arriving and the staff welcoming them to the Oval. Each year, I have the privilege of introducing the new class to each other and to the Olin community. This morning the new class was welcomed via Zoom by our Dean of Student Affairs, our Dean of Faculty/Interim Provost, our new President, and me. Even in this remote format, this is one of my favorite days of the year. An excerpt of my welcome is below. I hope you enjoy getting to know the Olin College Class of 2024!
Ready to introduce the Class of 2024 over Zoom!
Candidates’ Weekends feel like a lifetime ago or at least another planet, but here we are in this Zoom room celebrating the formal beginning of your Olin years. Your Olin story may have started on a blustery day in February as you dashed from the Design Challenge to lunch, when you hit submit on your application on January 1 at 11:59 pm your local time, or five years ago when your mom heard an NPR ad for a little college in Needham working really, really hard to change the world… but today you come together as a class (a class that of course includes President Gilda Barabino as an honorary member!) to begin your Olin adventure.
My job today is to present you, Olin Class of 2024, to each other and to the Olin community. As I got to know you through your applications and Candidates’ Weekends, I was amazed: Your preparation and potential rival any top college or university. But beyond academic statistics, you are creative and innovative and smart and funny and kind. You–and your families–should be extremely proud!
The Class of 2024 represents students from a variety of backgrounds, perspectives, identities, and cultures. In a field historically dominated by men, a mighty 44% of this class is not male-identified. Ten of you are first-generation college students (like me!). 42% of you are students of color. You represent 22 states and eight countries outside the US by primary citizenship, and another 11 of you are dual citizens.
We are proud to call all of you Oliners, and while your academic and demographic metrics are striking, it is your personality, your interests, your Olin-ness, that make you extraordinary and are what led us to choose you. Every offer of admission at Olin is a choice, an affirmation of who you are and what you bring to the college and our community. You are all Olin, #OurOlin. And…
As a group:
- You are altruistic: An amazing 80% of you participated in community service
- You are leaders: Over half of you captained an academic team, 20% of you captained athletic teams, seven were editors of school publications, two were Presidents of student government, one was President of your senior class, with another 11 of you serving in other student government roles, and four of you earned either your Eagle Scout rank or Gold Award
- You are athletic: 58% participated in at least one sport
- You are going to be all over those residence hall kitchens when we can open them up because so many of you love to bake
- You are entrepreneurial: At least four of you founded a business
- You are scholarly: At least 15 of you did research at a college or company
- You are makers! You shared so many incredible projects with us in your applications and through Candidates’ Weekends. There are far too many to name here!
- You are creative: Among the Class of 2024 you will find musicians (both instrumental and vocal), dancers, woodworkers and furniture makers, actors, creative writers, and visual artists of all kinds
- You are responsible: 51% of you held a job in high school, and several of you were primary caregivers for family members, and those numbers I am SURE grew during the pandemic
- You play chess (like, a lot of you play chess!): Is socially distanced chess the new club at Olin?
- You are active advocates for what you believe in as you demonstrated through your participation in political organizations, environmental organizations, and human rights organizations, and a pretty impressive 20% of you honed your persuasive skills in speech and debate
- And you love robotics!! A solid 65% of you did competitive robotics in high school, which makes so much sense–we are Olin after all!
As individuals (now, I am only going to mention a few interesting little tidbits here… you all have something speech-worthy, I promise):
- One of you is a salmon tour guide
- One of you did a TedX talk in Austria about a device you made for a friend with a disability
- One of you is an amateur boxer
- One of you helped build and manufacture particle accelerators
- One of you is a two-time Universal Cheerleading Association Champion
- One of you trained as a project leader for emergency disaster relief
- One of you is the founder, bassist, and singer for a band called "2 AM at Denny's,” and you should totally be friends with your classmate who built their own synthesizer
- One of you designed and constructed a table made from plastic waste collected along the shores of Lake Ontario to raise community awareness of the effects of pollution
- One of you built 20 3D-printed prosthetic hands for underprivileged children
- One of you works at the oldest children's bookstore in America
That list is remarkable, I know, but remember: Each and every one of you 86 amazing souls made an impression during your Candidates’ Weekend. Each and every one of you deserves to be here. Remember? I don’t make mistakes! You will all learn and grow as part of this truly amazing educational experience and one-of-a-kind community. Each and every one of you will make an impact here and on the world. And together, you are the next generation of world-changing engineers! Welcome to Olin, Class of 2024!