Members of Franklin & Marshall’s Class of 2018 formally joined the College’s academic community by learning about a significant challenge and opportunity over the next four years—finding, developing and cultivating their voices.
The 617 students (601 first-year students and 16 transfers) who gathered Sept. 2 for Convocation in F&M’s Alumni Sports & Fitness Center bring to campus a diverse collection of evolving voices and life experiences. In his remarks to the class, F&M President Daniel R. Porterfield discussed the importance of voice, punctuating his message with excerpts from the admission essays of a handful of first-year students in attendance, including Yanlin Yang of Shanghai.
From her essay, Porterfield read: “The violin has accompanied me since I was five years old. Playing was a source of happiness. Not only did I attain a sense of achievement but [I] understood the power of music. However, the stress of study pushed me to consider giving [it] up. My uncle had a heart-to-heart talk with me. ‘The violin is your sincerest friend. We kin are unable to accompany you forever…but she can be the audience who shares your emotion.’”
“Your voices are emerging,” Porterfield told the Class of 2018. “This time is for cultivating them. Yanlin’s voice is already so rich. Each of you is like Yanlin—and we can’t wait to see how you cultivate your voices here.”
The class is one of the most ethnically and socio-economically diverse in the history of the College. One in 10 are Hispanic American, 6 percent are African American, and 5 percent are Asian American. More than 13 percent of the class’ students are international, hailing from 21 nations and speaking languages ranging from Urdu to Mandarin, and from Ukrainian to French. Eighteen percent are the first in their families to go to college.
Two student speakers, twin sisters Emilie Woods ’16 and Gabrielle Woods ’16, talked about discovering and honing their voices at F&M. “Developing your voice as a college student will mean stretching yourself more than you ever have in the past,” Emilie said. “You must take risks. Gabrielle has taught me and so many students here that finding a voice at college will not happen passively.”
Gabrielle, studying abroad in Chile, spoke via video message. “A vital part of developing your voice in college is being able to actively listen to it, knowing when something’s not right for you, recognizing when something is, and being able to adjust accordingly.”
Class of 2018 By The Numbers
- 601 members (316 women, 285 men) from 31 states and 21 countries
- 1,312 Average SAT score
- 60% varsity athletes in high school
- 32% musicians
- 25% actors, dancers
- 18% first-generation college students
- 16% have published works
- 13.3% international students
- 9% speak two or more languages