Photos by Shelly Hanks, WSU Photo Services.
 
 
PULLMAN, Wash. – It starts now.
 
That was the message delivered to WSU’s newest students at the 2011 Convocation on Friday at the Beasley Performing Arts Coliseum.
 
“This convocation is a beginning,” said WSU President Elson S. Floyd, who welcomed the students to the university and pledged to do all he could to help them succeed.

Floyd spoke about the value of a degree from WSU and highlighted the accomplishments of two distinguished alumni, Neva Martin Abelson, who discovered the lifesaving blood test for the Rh factor, and John Fabian, the first Coug to travel in space.
 
“There are no limitations to what you can accomplish with your degree from Washington State University,” he said.

 
Hopes for the 21st century
 
This year’s freshman class–at an estimated 4,200 students–is not only the largest in WSU history, but also the most diverse. At Friday’s ceremony, University College Dean Mary Wack pointed out one other distinction: as members of the class of 2015, they will graduate during WSU’s 125th anniversary year.
 
 “I hope someone from this entering class will be the first Rhodes Scholar from WSU in this 21st century,” she said.
 
Keynote speaker Richard Zack, associate professor of entomology, stayed away from insects and instead had words of inspiration that varied from the practical to the poetic.
 
When you drive through Colfax, go the speed limit, he said. Go to class. Spend time on Steptoe Butte and get to know the Palouse. Go to talks even if you don’t think you’re interested in the speaker’s topic. Take time to meet new people and make new friends, he said.
Maintaining equilibrium
 
Zack encouraged students to read, read, read – not just their textbooks, but other books as well. Two of his favorites are “Alice in Wonderland” and “Into the Looking Glass.”
 
Alice’s challenge is to keep her senses while trying to figure out what’s going on, Zack said, and that’s not a bad description of entering college.
 
At one point, Alice says, “I wonder if I’ve been changed in the night? Let me think. Was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I’m not the same, the next question is ‘Who in the world am I?'”
 
Consider the important questions
 
College is the biggest investment you’ll ever make, Zack said, and at the start of this journey there are important questions to consider: Who am I? Why am I here? When I leave WSU will I be a changed person?
Zack delivered other advice culled from the pages of “Alice in Wonderland,” including his suggestion that students practice thinking “six impossible things before breakfast.”
 
“What impossible things are you going to accomplish?” he asked.
 
Make every day count
 
Today it starts, said Melynda Huskey, assistant vice president for student services and dean of students.
 
“Before you know it, you’ll be adjusting your tassel and shaking the president’s hand at graduation. Between here and there, make every day count,” she said.
 
Her advice included tried and true suggestions: Go to class. Go to office hours. Ask questions. Take advantage of the wealth of student services, such as tutors and advising services.
“Let’s focus,” she told the students. “Take a breath. Take another breath. All right. Ready? It starts now.”