Over 900 new students gathered at the University of East London’s SportsDock on Friday 27 September to participate in the institution’s inaugural Welcome Convocation ceremonies.
Each student was given a phoenix pin – the phoenix is the University’s mascot and a representation of its rich heritage and future. Two ceremonies were held to give as many students as possible an opportunity to participate.
Professor Amanda Broderick, the University’s vice chancellor and president, opened the event by telling students, “Congratulations to all of you for joining the community of the University of East London. This is a celebration of the start of your journey with us.
“Today is a chance to look back on how you got here, as well as reflect on your future career and what you can do to make your aspirations real. Your University experience can realise your full potential and help you to reach for your dreams.”
Other speakers included representatives of the University’s career, enterprise, volunteering and sport services. There were also special presentations on the inspirational #BeTheNext campaign, which features successful University alumni, and a catwalk show of the newly redesigned East London Sport uniforms.
Alumna Jacqueline Malcolm, a creative professional and deputy chair of the University’s Alumni Advisory Board, told students “You’ve made a great choice by deciding to come to the University of East London.”
She said, “You will find there are times you want to quit. Don’t do it. You will feel inadequate. You will run out of money. You will feel stressed to the max and you will think that you are being pulled in all directions.
“Keep going, because having a degree does open doors. Use the opportunities you have here to sustain you. Build your career around what you want to do with your life.”
Students said they found the Welcome Convocation ceremonies inspiring, with many noting that they would follow up with the services and opportunities presented.
Jaron Goh, a business psychology student, said, “I thought it was a really good chance to reflect and hear the stories from people who have already been through university life. It was an opportunity to learn from others and get to know staff and the community.”
Mr Sachin Rajkighone, a business and administration student, said, “The event was really informative. I have come from India where we don’t have anything like this, so it was great. I found a lot of the talks really inspiring and I feel very welcome.”
Rachel Oduwusi, who is studying early childhood studies, said, “It was very helpful to have people from all the different parts of the University talk and give advice on a whole range of things.”
Ravneet Singh, an early childhood studies student, said, “The whole event was well presented. It was nice of the University to welcome new students in an informal manner. I enjoyed the pinning ceremony and I found out a lot of useful information.”
The event finished with a heartfelt speech by Mohamed Ismail, president of the University’s Students’ Union (SU). He shared his personal journey at the University, describing how, although he struggled initially, he graduated with the highest honours in law. He reassured students that the UELSU is available to support and guide them.
He said, “The first few months at university are always challenging. I felt a lot of anxiety and panic but I refused to give in. I took Malcolm X as my source of inspiration and I saw my education as a passport to greater things.
“You will meet with challenges, but with sweat, hard work and determination you will succeed. There is always calm after the storm and you will ride it through. The SU is here to support and guide you. Take the initiative, stand out from the crowd, and help us to increase our footprints in the local community.”