From University President Susan R Wente

To the Class of 2026,

Welcome to the Demon Deacon family. You made it! I hope your first week on campus goes well as you move in, make friends and learn more about your new community. Undoubtedly, it will take some time to get settled, but don’t worry — this time last year, I was also new on campus. I am proud to call Wake Forest home, and very soon, you will, too. 

As a professor of biology and biochemistry, I’ve spent my career studying the inner workings of living cells. At first glance under the microscope, everything appears chaotic — there are millions of molecules and chemical reactions going on every second and in every corner of every cell. But if you keep looking, studying, asking questions and inviting in different perspectives, you start to see patterns and processes, rhythm and logic.

In a similar way, Wake Forest may feel a little chaotic and frenetic right now — but this is actually what thriving looks like (And you are going to thrive here)! I assure you that amidst all the newness, excitement, activity and revelry, you will find structure and rhythm; discovery and collaboration; inclusion and belonging and that each of us forges our own pathway, we’re united by a common desire to be catalysts for good in society. 

I use those words — pathway and catalyst — very deliberately. To borrow again from my experience as a scientist, while cells are home to many different types of chemical reactions, it is the job of catalysts to accelerate and modulate those reactions. To put it as simply as possible, catalysts speed things up and lower the barriers to success. 

As your president, I view this as an apt metaphor for what you will experience at Wake Forest. As students, you will encounter many different types of catalysts on campus — a class, a club, a paper, an interaction with an advisor, counselor or professor; an assigned reading or guest lecture, a service project or study abroad experience or even a walk along one of our campus trails. These catalysts will combine over the course of your Wake Forest journey to yield your own unique pathway to discovery.

As you begin to explore campus this week, understand that everyone here — your fellow students, your teachers and your advisers — are partners in your individual pathway. And in your own unique way, you will be a catalyst for others too. 

Again, my warmest welcome to Wake Forest. We can’t wait to see what you discover, and we will be with you on every step of your pathway.