ANTIGONISH: St. Francis Xavier University recently welcomed its newest students.

StFX President Dr. Kent MacDonald personally greeted incoming students and their families before registering and moving into a Student Services Showcase that includes information booths from departments across campus, food stations, and the StFX photo booth.

As the nearly 1,000 members of the StFX Class of 2021 and their families arrive onto campus for the first time, the exuberant, pink shirt clad student ambassadors of the O-Crew were there to meet them, singing, dancing, and helping ease first year jitters.

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Along with moving into residence, Welcome Day includes parent orientation sessions, a formal president’s welcome and faculty and staff on hand to chat and answer questions.

In his welcoming remarks, Dr. MacDonald encouraged students to be academically focused and socially engaged.

“Think about your time here at StFX and what you’re about to embark on,” he said as he delivered two key messages to students, parents and family.

Dr. MacDonald says he looks for two things in students that come to StFX.

The first is that they’re academically focused—“that you think of yourself as a university student, someone who is going to embrace all aspects from an intellectual point of view”—and to think more deeply about what it is they want to learn at an institution like StFX.

“The second part is to be socially engaged in life,” he said as he advised students to be engaged in community, to join a society, get involved in student life, perhaps join Service Learning, Shinerama, or O-Crew.

“This is a place that believes young people can make a difference in the world. I welcome you to this very, very special place, StFX and I welcome you to the Xaverian community.”

“We will give you the tools to make a difference in the world,” StFX academic vice-president and provost Dr. Kevin Wamsley told students as he remarked that part of the essence of StFX is its outstanding faculty and staff and unique community.

Students’ Union president Annie Sirois also encouraged students to become involved, to take the opportunity they have at StFX to get out of their comfort zone, to be ambitious, to seize opportunities and give opportunities to others.

Welcome Day has been great, says Zach Murray of St. John’s, Newfoundland, a first-year music student.

“It’s been cool. It’s way more extravagant than I thought, the whole set-up, with all the returning students welcoming you. It feels very much like you’re welcome. There’s no pressure. It’s very cool,” he says.

It’s a sentiment echoed by his mom, Ann Murray. “It’s been awesome,” she says, offering a parent perspective. “Everyone is so happy and friendly and it’s not confusing at all.”