At convocation, Wente challenges the Class of 2026 to be “catalysts for good”

At Convocation, students also signed the university’s honor code


Courtesy of Wake Forest

President Susan Wente, alongside deans and faculty members, processes through Wait Chapel during Convocation.

Maddie Stopyra, Staff Writer

On Friday, August 19, university faculty and staff welcomed the Class of 2026 to the Wake Forest community at New Student Convocation. Hosted annually in Wait Chapel, New Student Convocation is a ceremony in which new undergraduate students sign the honor code, pledging to uphold the university’s motto “Pro Humanitate

“Academic integrity is the founding principle of Wake Forest education,” Provost Dr. Michele Gillespie said during her opening remarks. “This code represents a foundational commitment that every member of this community makes to uphold honesty and integrity. It allows our community to foster trust and respect for each other.” 

Facilitated by Student Government President Pilar Agudelo, new students signed a printed statement alongside their peers. In completing this, the Class of 2026 pledged to maintain the university’s policy regarding plagiarism, cheating and stealing. 

In addition to participating in the tradition of signing the honor code, the incoming class took part in a pinning ceremony. Students faced their classmates and declared themselves full members of Wake Forest, and each student promised to contribute and respect the university. 

Alongside partaking in two Wake Forest traditions, attendees heard from six speakers, including Wake Forest President Dr. Susan Wente. The university president who was inaugurated in March 2022 connected with new students in their shared experiences as new members of the Wake Forest community. Wente communicated her passion for the student body as well as the faculty’s devotion to student success. 

“[The faculty is] committed to ensuring that Wake Forest is a place where each of you can belong and thrive,” Wente said. “Let me further clearly say [that] each of you [is] valued, and you belong right here at Wake Forest University.” 

As she continued to encourage the Class of 2026, Wente drew on her background as a biomedical scientist. She spoke on the pathway to success and connected it to the chemical term “catalyst”, a substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction. 

“While each of us is here foraging our own pathway, we are united by our common desire to be catalysts for good in society,” Wente said. “Catalysts speed things up and lower the barrier to success. That is an apt metaphor for what you are about to experience at Wake Forest. As students, you are going to experience many different catalysts on campus: a class, a paper, a club, an interaction with an advisor, a counselor, a professor, an assigned reading or guest lecture; or even a walk along one of our beautiful campus trails. When you add up the action of all these individual catalysts together over the course of your time here, the result will be your individual pathway to discovery.” 

Alongside Wente, faculty members such as Associate Dean for Academic Advising Dr. Ashley Hairston and Interim Dean of the College Dr. Anthony Marsh offered advice to the incoming freshman class. Hairston invited students to utilize resources available to them such as the Office of Academic Advising and comforted students in finding their path and messing up along the way. Similarly, Marsh emphasized the importance of openness to the college experience. 

“Be open,” Marsh said. “Be open to new opportunities as they present themselves over the next four years. Be open to new ways of thinking as you take classes in the liberal arts core and the various majors and minors as our amazing college faculty strives to help you reach your full potential. Be open to new relationships with your peers as we recognize that we are more alike than different.” 

Each speaker highlighted the importance of community on Wake Forest’s campus. The University Chaplain, Reverend Timothy L. Auman, offered a moment of prayer and stillness for attendees. He prayed for unity among students and faculty as the Class of 2026 begins their college experience. Auman, alongside the other faculty speakers, advocated for camaraderie and the embodiment of Pro Humanitate. After singing the Alma Mater as a congregation, faculty members recessed out of Wait Chapel, and the ceremony concluded.

“I appreciated the emphasis placed on belonging and community throughout the entire ceremony,” freshman Ava Johnson said. “This message created a sense of intimacy and security despite sitting among hundreds of students who I might consider strangers today, but soon friends.” 

More information about New Student Convocation as well as a live stream of the event can be found at