Feature Story

Class of 2024

August 18, 2020 – by Cole Hatcher

Ohio Wesleyan Welcomes New Bishops from 30 States, D.C., 18 Countries

Ohio Wesleyan University’s newest students received a unique welcome to their college experience Aug. 16, with OWU’s first online Convocation ceremony.

“The pandemic has pushed us to become experts at overcoming time and space to connect with friends, colleagues, and people everywhere,” President Rock Jones, Ph.D., told the group of more than 440 first-year and transfer students. “What a powerful tool that will be in your education and throughout your life.

“Over the next four years,” Jones continued via the video message, “you will use technology – and real face-to-face, closer-than-six-feet interactions – to create a web of connections with the people attending this Convocation – and with many more across the Ohio Wesleyan campus and around the world.”

Achieving Dreams

Current OWU senior and student government President Jose Armendariz Matute also greeted OWU’s incoming first-year and transfer students, sharing the significance being and feeling welcome at Ohio Wesleyan.

“You will hear the word ‘welcome’ many times in the coming weeks, days, and hours,” said Matute, a Clinton, North Carolina, resident. “But I want you to know that ‘welcome’ is not merely a pleasantry – it has meaning here at Ohio Wesleyan.

“It truly means that we want you to be welcome here,” continued Matute, a double-major in politics & government and pre-law. “That you should feel free to be yourself. That you should feel free to be comfortable. That this university is meant to be a place of learning and a place of growing.

“We believe that you will learn and grow best when you feel welcome,” said Matute, sharing that he is both a first-generation college student and the first Hispanic president of the WCSA student government. “You'll find throughout the coming days, weeks, months, and years that when you begin to explore the wonders Ohio Wesleyan has to offer, that when you open your mind and your imagination – you can get to the places that once were just dreams and aspirations.”

‘The Potential to Excel Here’

Stefanie Niles, Ed.D., vice president of enrollment and communications, officially presented the new class and encouraged them to be active members of the OWU community.

“You bring many interests, achievements, and accolades to Ohio Wesleyan, and our community will be better for your enthusiasm and aspirations,” Niles said. “You all have the potential to excel here, and every member of the community looks forward to helping you discover and achieve your goals.”

Niles also shared past accomplishments of the incoming students, providing “a sense of the eclectic array of interests your classmates possess.” OWU’s newest Bishops include students who:

  • Participated in a state Young Legislators Group.
  • Created simulators for both Xbox and Kinect games.
  • Conducted research on the impact of sunscreen on coral.
  • Performs as part of the CirqueLouis Unicycle Project.
  • Competes as a national-level cricket player.
  • Won a national Rubik’s Cube competition and another student who won an international Rubik’s Cube competition.
  • Earned an award at an international children’s film festival.
  • Hiked the Triple Crown on the Appalachian Trail.
  • Earned both a state championship in weightlifting and a silver award in the National Robotics Challenge.
  • Is a nationally published book illustrator.
  • Serves as a Youth Board member of the Wolakota Native American reservation nonprofit organization.

‘Interesting and Accomplished’

Niles also shared geographic, academic, and extracurricular information about OWU’s newest “interesting and accomplished group” of students. Those details include:

  • OWU’s Class of 2024 and new transfer students represent 30 states, D.C., and 18 other countries.
  • 76 are members of the National Honor Society.
  • 17 already have gone global, completing study-abroad or exchange experiences while in high school.
  • 274 participated in varsity sports, including 90 team captains and 49 All-Star, All-State, or All-Region players.
  • 49 took part in theatre, with nine playing a lead role or serving as director of a production.
  • 32 were involved in marching band, and 78 participated in concert band, orchestra, or choir.
  • Eight were editors of a literary magazine, eight were editors of their school newspaper, and seven were editors of their yearbook.
  • Six are Eagle Scouts, and two earned Girls Scout Gold or Silver Awards.
  • 22 served in leadership roles in high school student government, including at least 11 student body or class presidents.
  • 39 were involved in a diversity club or organization.
  • 125 held a job in high school and almost half chose to volunteer time in service to others.

Students First

Karlyn Crowley, Ph.D., OWU’s provost, talked to the new students about the University’s commitment to them and to their educational experience.

“Our focus is you,” said Crowley, who oversees academic affairs.

“At OWU, our students come first,” she continued, “great teaching is truly valued, students play an active role in University decision-making, our staff are focused on your growth, your safety, your success.”

‘You are Trailblazers’

In his formal remarks, President Jones also praised the students for their past successes and encouraged them to embrace the all of the opportunities they will encounter at Ohio Wesleyan.

“Today you take your place in a community of scholars that for nearly 180 years has provided a setting to explore big ideas, ask big questions, dream big dreams, and prepare for lives of meaning and purpose that in some cases have literally changed the world,” Jones said. “But never before has a group of students begun their time at Ohio Wesleyan as you begin your time here.

“We are living in the midst of a pandemic that has changed everything about how we live and work,” he said. “You will be the first class in our history to split your time between the classroom and virtual learning. You are trailblazers. … This semester, you may have a mask on your face, but your mind will soar free.

“I am honored to welcome you,” Jones concluded, “and I look forward to all that will happen as a result of your time on this campus. Welcome to OWU!”


Photos from the Class of 2024 Move-In Day
August 16, 2020

Class of 2024 New Student Move-In Day
(Photos by Paul Vernon and Reilly Wright ’20)