The Welcome Speech

Aug 8, 2010   //   by Anna Zaniewski   //   Compass News, Summer Program 2010  //  No Comments

Last night, Harjit Singh, Compass student from 2009, delivered a great welcome speech.  He left everyone laughing and moved with his sweet sincerity.   Here’s what he delivered to the crowd of 80 students, families, grad students and faculty:

For all the incoming freshmen sitting here, you’re probably wondering what you’re getting yourself into.  To be honest with you, a year ago, I had no idea either.  The thing is, for the summer program at least, you’re going to be confused, lost, frustrated, and by the end, completely exhausted.  But during the whole experience, you’re going to have an unbelievable amount of fun, and I’m not just saying that because I’m getting a free dinner.  To shed some light on Compass, I’ll talk just briefly about its history and what you can expect from the program.

A few years back, some grad students decided that there needed to be more diversity in the field of physics.  Other programs around campus were trying to create diversity for their respective fields of study.  However, nothing existed for physics, or the physical sciences in general.  The best way to do this was to reach out to a diverse group of undergraduate students and encourage them to pursue studies in physics.  The rest is history.  With a lot of effort, funding, and support, we now have this multi-thousand dollar organization.  Although Compass is still concerned with diversity, building a community within the field of physics has become a main goal of ours.

The best thing about Compass is the sense of community you feel from it.  It’s truly unlike anything else that you’ll experience while at Berkeley.  Traditionally, students come into the sciences, take their classes over the four undergraduate years, hopefully graduate, and its over.  How much do you think they actually enjoy college?  Not a whole lot.  They felt they never had anyone to go to for their problems in school.  Sure, you can go to graduate student instructors or professors, but honestly, do they really care about you?

That’s what you get from Compass, a group of people who truly care about you.  Many of you might be coming to Berkeley knowing only a few other people.  Some of you might not even know anyone.  Look around; there are at least 50 people in here that you can call your own.  People you can depend on and go to for help.  People who will remain a part of your Physical Science Community.

For the freshman, let me tell you what you all mean to each other.  These are the same people that you’ll be with studying with for your next midterm.  The same people who you hang out with for fun during the weekends.  They’ll be the same people who you go and play Frisbee with out on Memorial Glade.  And they are the same people who’ll you’ll get to know very well over these next two weeks.  Everyone one of you is going to have your personal share of frustrations to deal with during the class, but you’ll all be in it together, working to solve problems.  This is the take-home point from the program.  Science is meant to be a collaborative process, and Compass helps you to become comfortable with this type of collaboration.

There’s no way that you’re going to have everything figured out your first year at Cal.  That’s why you have all your Compass peers to learn and grow together.  Stuck on a problem, Compass has tutoring for that.  Can’t figure out how to get your daily schedule in order?  We have mentoring for that.  Want to engage in a nice conversation with Physics nerds, you have everyone here to talk to.  But if you want someone cool to talk to, I’ll be sitting right over there.  Anyway, I hope you all have a great experience here at Berkeley.  The next chapter of your lives has begun.  Welcome to Compass.

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