The incoming 5,500 first-year students at the University of Connecticut set new records in the university’s history, such as being the largest first-year class, having the highest average SAT scores and having the most students join the Honors Program, according to university spokesperson, Stephanie Reitz.

“Thousands of Connecticut’s most talented high school graduates are coming this week to UConn as part of the new freshman class, comprising three-quarters of a group that is the most diverse and among the most academically accomplished in recent history,” Reitz said in a press release.

The Class of 2022 at UConn Storrs average an SAT score of 1306, which is higher than any previous class at UConn, according to Reitz.

Also, a record number of 550 first-year students are joining the Honors Program.

About 3,764 of the first-year students are based at UConn Storrs. Reitz said more than 40 percent of them are students of color (not including international students), which “reflects the diversity of the state and the nation.”

Week of Welcome (WOW) offers a variety of activities for incoming students, including the SUBOG Block Party, Cultural Centers’ Open House and the class photo. Photo: Daniela Doncel

About 1,000 transfer students joined the new 5,500 students, resulting in an overall undergraduate student body comprising of about 24,375 students, with about 19,331 of them at the Storrs campus, Reitz said.

The university also saw a new record in applications with more than 38,000 people who applied for the Class of 2022, according to a UConn Fact Sheet. This is more than double of the applications received in 2001, when UConn received 13,600 applications.

UConn President Susan Herbst said the university is successful at recruiting Connecticut high school graduates because of the exceptional academics, great faculty and outstanding facilities, at a State Capitol event on Wednesday, August 22.  

“When you invest in UConn,” Herbst said, “you are investing in Connecticut’s future. And this class, like all our freshman classes, is some of the best evidence of that.”

Storrs-based first-year students were welcomed to campus during Week of Welcome (WOW) this past weekend, which included the Torch Lighting Convocation Ceremony.

Day quickly turned to night as the students walked across the lawn toward the stage. Photo: Daniela Doncel

Students filled up the lawn in front of the Student Union Mall with their UConn candles.

Justis Lopez hyped the crowd of first-years as the MC of the celebration.

“UConn, if we believe in love, can I get a yeah?… I said UConn, if we believe in love, can I get a yeah?… All right, no doubt,” Lopez said.

Lopez is an alumnus of UConn Class of 2014. In his speech, he discussed the importance of finding a tribe and of having the courage to follow dreams, using his own experience at UConn as an example.

“You need to find yourself a tribe while you are here at this university, because that is what is going to make the difference throughout your experience here. I was lucky enough , I found my tribe very early. I am the first of my family to go to college and I became part of a family known as SSS, Student Support Services.”

“My friend, what’s your name?”

“Kelly.”

Lopez also invited three students on the stage to share their dreams in front of their classmates.

“Kelly, tell me your dream.”

“My dream is to become a set designer for broadway.”

“That’s what I’m talking about!” Lopez said as the crowd cheered.

Lopez took the stage to end the ceremony after the torch was lit by USG President Ama Appiah. Photo: Bailey Shea

Ama Appiah, President of the Undergraduate Student Government (USG), also took the stage to speak to the first-year students.

“Class of 2022,” Appiah said, “each and every one of you is standing here today because the University of Connecticut saw the potential and power in you.”

Appiah lit the ceremonial torch. Students cheered and raised their candles high above their heads.

According to UConn Today, this tradition began with the Class of 2018 in August of 2014, with the light of the torch and candles representing the start of a student’s journey through UConn.

UConn alumna of the Class of 2004, Rebecca Rose, volunteered at the event to hand out the candles. She said convocation is important as a formal kick-off for the school year.

“I think candles are so symbolic for any different point of life and it really gives a good era of hope and togetherness. When the evening goes dark and the candles come on and it’s all the students together in unity, you can’t see each individual student but you can see all that light together,” Rose said.

The lights of student candles joined the light of the ceremonial torch, lit by Appiah. Photo: Bailey Shea

Kara Burkholder is an incoming first-year studying nutritional sciences who attended convocation. She had a mix of nerves and excitement about starting off school at UConn.

“I’m really nervous but I’m really excited. I’m actually not from around here, so I don’t really know anyone who is going here. My roommate, she knows so many people who are going here. I’m really excited just to meet a lot of new people and everything,” Burkholder said.

Burkholder, along with the other UConn students, enjoyed the festivities after the ceremony for Husky WOW hosted by UConn Student Activities. This included a USG Ice Cream Social and UConn Late Night.

Students enjoyed ice cream, cake and music across Fairfield Way.

Husky WOW continued until Sunday, August 26 with about 40 events available to the new students.

Classes began at all UConn campuses on Monday, August 27.

The cake for the class of 2022 was displayed on Fairfield way during the Convocation Ceremony. Photo: Daniela Doncel

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Daniela Doncel
News Director

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