Welcome Class of 2023! 

Welcome to Hawk Hill! The bustle and stress of move-in is finally over and you have officially embarked on your SJU career. Maybe you participated in one of SJU’s early-arrival programs or maybe you just moved in on Friday or Saturday. Maybe you are coming from North Jersey or all the way from Colorado. Maybe you are living large in Lafarge or across the way in McShain. Whatever the case, you are now all members of the freshman class, the Class of 2023! You are now all students at Saint Joseph’s University! 

I am sure that you have heard the words “Welcome Home!” many times as you were moving into your respective dormitories. Many of you may not feel at home yet. That is completely fine and natural. Many of you may miss home, your friends from high school, your siblings, and your comfortable routine. You are not alone. Your fellow classmates feel the same way. However, thinking back to my freshman move-in last August, I remember wondering to myself: “Will I ever call this place home? Will I ever share that feeling with those overly enthusiastic upperclassmen?” Now, as one of those overly enthusiastic upperclassmen, I am here to say that you will.

Saint Joe’s has an uncanny ability to make everyone feel at home. It has the ability to surround its students with like-minded peers, caring professors and a challenging yet loving community. A home is a place where you not only feel comfort and love, but it is also a place where you grow. Saint Joe’s is my home. I feel safe and accepted here. I am able to be my true self without judgement. However, I do not feel complacent. SJU challenges me to grow. It challenges me to be a better version of myself not for selfish reasons, but in order to better serve with and for others. 

Keeping that in mind, as the rest of the university and I welcome you, the Class of 2023, to your new home, I challenge you to do one thing: Don’t Give Up. I am not going to sugar coat it. Freshman year of college is not easy. There will be times when you may feel alone, when you are exhausted, when you fail a test, or when you are not chosen for the club or team. Do not allow these negative emotions to consume you. Instead, allow the Saint Joe’s community to lift you up, to carry some of the burden, and to be your family. Do not sit alone in your dorm if you feel alone. Instead, I challenge you to attend one of your RA’s programs, try out for a new club sport, or join a different activity. Do not be afraid to get involved or to be your true, authentic self. When you are struggling in a class, go to your professor’s office hours. They want you to succeed and they want to help! They are not here to scare you or simply grade your assignments, they are here to inspire you and work with you, as you continue to grow academically into a fuller version of yourself. 

As you all begin your Saint Joe’s career, I challenge you to give it a chance. Do not close up and allow fear or anxiety to hold you back from your full potential. Go outside of your comfort zone and introduce yourself to your professors and peers. Live life to the fullest. I promise that if you actively embrace the community Saint Joe’s provides, it will embrace you in return. The love, acceptance and encouragement of Hawk Hill will spur you on to reach for the stars. Reaching for stars can be scary; however, feel comfort in the fact that your home will always be here to catch you. 

Best of luck during this first week of classes and as you embark on this new journey! Enjoy every second of your time here at Saint Joe’s and do not be surprised if you begin to feel at home. 

-Paul Koenig, ’22