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The Class of 2018: Talented, Diverse and Engaged

They arrive at Franklin & Marshall College eager to expand their already promising minds, enrich their lives, and propel themselves to success both during and after college.

Hailing from 21 countries, 31 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, the Class of 2018 is among the most ethnically and socio-economically diverse in the history of the College. One in 10 are Hispanic American, 6 percent are African American, 5 percent are Asian American, and 13.3 percent are international. Eighteen percent are the first in their families to go to college.

On Tuesday, Sept. 2, F&M will welcome these 316 women and 285 men with a 10 a.m. Convocation ceremony in F&M's Alumni Sports & Fitness Center.

"This year's incoming students once again comprise a class that is robust in its talent and diversity," said Daniel Lugo, the College’s vice president and dean of admission and financial aid. "We look forward to what the Class of 2018 will accomplish."

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  • On Franklin & Marshall's Hartman Green, members of the Class of 2017 enjoy a carnival, an Orientation Weekend tradition for the College's newest class. The Class of 2018 arrives on campus Aug. 28 for Move-In Day. (Photo by Melissa Hess)

This year's Convocation theme is "Voices," and in his address to the new students, F&M President Daniel R. Porterfield will talk about the value of each student developing his or her own voice, a prerequisite to being heard in the world.

Two student speakers, sisters Emilie and Gabrielle Woods, both juniors, will discuss how they discovered and honed their voices at F&M. Gabrielle, who is studying abroad in Chile, will address the incoming class via Skype.

The John W. Wetzel Professor of Classics and Professor of Government Dean Hammer, the 2013 recipient of the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation Award for Distinguished Teaching, will offer faculty remarks. Dean, the New College House don, will explore the importance of self discovery.

Incoming first-year student Keira Barakat Norford of Pennsylvania has a head start on finding her voice. She wrote a biography of her grandmother -- in Arabic -- is a National Merit Scholar who plays the flute, and worked at the Philadelphia Zoo. Her academic focus at F&M is environmental studies.

"The College has so many research opportunities," Norford said, citing her reasons for choosing to attend F&M. "There's diversity in the student community and everyone is actively engaged with one another."

A certified frog watcher and public educator at Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo, Arielle Davida Panthauer said she chose F&M because it offers distinctive academic experiences.

"I spoke with a student and professor about F&M's vivarium, which fascinates me because I want to be a veterinarian," Panthauer said. "Students here have the rare opportunity to have graduate-level experiences."

The incoming class also brings a desire for local community involvement.

"The opportunity to volunteer through the Ware Institute for Civic Engagement is really exciting," said Genevieve Rohrer of Wisconsin. A winner of the National Security Language Initiative for Youth scholarship, Rohrer spent a summer in Morocco improving her Arabic language skills.

Ejup Hyseni, who speaks German and Albanian, founded a bird watching club at his Oregon high school, volunteered at a local Humane League, and helped 6th- and 7th-graders adjust to middle school through another volunteer program. He said F&M's dynamic social and intellectual opportunities drew him to campus.

"It has a club- and organization-rich culture that adds layers to what you learn in the classroom," he said.

Erel Ipeknaz, meanwhile, is a swimmer on the Turkish National Team and founding member of a service club for teens that is sponsored by the Rotary Club. She often lectures on peace and political conflicts with student peers from Greece, Cyprus and Turkey.

"It's such a supportive campus community," Ipeknaz said of F&M. "Being a Diplomat means being a part of a huge family."