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DU’s Class of 2022 Experiences Pioneer Passage

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Madeline Phipps

Senior Media Relations Specialist

Madeline Phipps

Justin Beach

Chancellor Chopp encourages them to remember their ABCs: Ask questions, Balance and Connect

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More than 1,500 new University of Denver students and their families gathered Tuesday morning in Magness Arena for Pioneer Passage, an event that serves as an official welcome into the DU community. A highlight of orientation week, it represents the first time all the students join together as a new class in the same space from which they will graduate in four years.

Students and their parents heard from Chancellor Rebecca Chopp and others on the importance of the values that will define their time at DU. In an address that focused on shaping the DU community, Chopp drew upon lessons from the memoir read by all incoming students as part of the One Book One DU program, “Season to Taste: How I Lost My Sense of Smell and Found My Way.”

Chopp noted that “Season to Taste” provides an example of how to create community. The book details the story of Molly Birnbaum, an aspiring chef who loses her sense of smell in an accident. “Birnbaum reaches out and learns everything there is about the sense of smell,” Chopp said. “She not only receives community, she creates it. Values and community are what we mean when we talk about DU. You’re here to create your own sense of values, but you’re also here to build this community.”

Chopp also discussed the history of DU, sharing examples of such high points as being one of the first universities to admit women to science degrees, as well as such low points as when the institution faced insolvency and almost had to close. “Values are never perfect; they’re always evolving,” she said. “Get to know your values, get to know others’ values, and do it in the sense of ‘One DU.’”

Finally, Chopp revealed her ABCs for college success. The first, “Ask questions.” “There is no better time in your life to do so, and it is the key to your academic success and the key to building community,” she said. Second, she continued, “Balance. Balance is the key to life. Make sure you’re doing well academically. Make sure you’re engaging with friends. Make sure you’re staying fit and well; make sure that you’re serving the public good.”

Last but not least, “Connect.” Chopp said. “I’m a first-generation college student. My family was poor, and most of my friends were also first-generation college students whose families were from the same socioeconomic background. It was in college that I learned about the sheer joy and fascination of connecting with someone really different than me.” She added, “Connect with someone really different. You need mentors and guides to do this journey.”

Students also heard from Jeremy Haefner, provost and executive vice chancellor. After starting at DU this summer, Haefner said he could identify with the incoming class. Todd Rinehart, vice chancellor for enrollment management, opened the event with statistics about this year’s incoming class, including the fact that 69 percent of students are from out-of-state and that they come from 925 different high schools.