Peter J (PJ) Connell, an ERE student and President of the ESF Undergraduate Student Association, delivered a message of welcome and advice to entering freshman on August 23, 2013 at the ESF-SU opening Convocation ceremony held in the Carrier Dome. This is a high honor and PJ’s address captivated the audience and received thunderous applause; the next speaker to the podium, SU student president Alexandra Curtis, immediately told the crowd that PJ was a tough act to follow. The DO posted this story that overlooks important ESF contributions to the Convocation.

PJ shared the stage with ESF President Neil Murphy, SU Chancellor Nancy Cantor, and other platform party members. PJ’s speech is below:

Greetings parents, faculty, staff, and students, and allow me to say a word you’ve probably heard more than any other over the past few days – welcome. You’re in for a great time.

I’d like to start off by thanking Chancellor Cantor and Preisdent Murphy for their thoughtful thanks and constant dedication to the continued success and improvement of our respective institutions. I think I speak for everyone when I say that you two will be sorely missed by the rest of us here in Syracuse. The list of individuals and groups who deserve thanks and praise for all they have done to make these two schools as well-respected as they are today is endless, so I’d like to offer a general message of gratitude to all parties involved.

Let’s move on to the point of my speech. You new students up in the stands, I’m willing to bet that this day has come faster than you could have ever imagined. You’re now freshmen in college, the first tangible step into adulthood and the chaotic state of life commonly referred to as the “real world”. However, like I said, time flies. Doesn’t it feel like just yesterday that you were amazed to be starting your first day of high school?

Believe me, I’m in a very similar boat. It was just two years ago that I was up there, sitting in your place, feeling “happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time,” as Taylor Swift would put it. I bet some of you want to retreat into your own personal bubble, while others want to be friends with everyone you lay your eyes on.

Think about that.

Now, as I’ve said, you’re preparing yourselves for the real world. However, if there is one thing I can stress to you all, it’s to cherish every single moment of your college experience, because I promise that it will fly by. For example, let’s look at some events that have occurred in the last year alone, and you will see how fast time flies.

  • In the last year, we watched actress Amanda Bynes go from beloved child star to yet another downwardly spiraling former-celebrity, a la Lindsay Lohan.
  • It’s already been ten months since Hurricane Sandy struck the eastern coast of the United States.
  • Several important babies were born, including George, the royal baby, and North West, child of Kim Kardashian and Kanye, who is everyone’s new favorite direction.
  • The first Hobbit movie was finally released, while the Twilight series was finally, mercifully ended

With that, I’d like to encourage you not to let these college years be just another four years of your life, but to be the best four years of your life. You have four years to leave your mark on your school, and time starts now.

Good luck.


Convocation platform party and faculty procession toward the stage.

Convocation platform party and faculty procession toward the stage.


Platform party with SU Chancellor Nancy Cantor standing and ESF President Neil Murphy seated, wearing green academic regalia.

Platform party with SU Chancellor Nancy Cantor standing, ESF President Neil Murphy seated, wearing green academic regalia, and ERE student PJ in a black academic gown and seated behind Tadodaho Sidney Hill of the Onondaga Nation, Haudenosaunee Confederacy .