Dare to care. Find meaning. Chase your dreams. Because here, you can. The message was all of that and more at the third annual UNLV Creates induction ceremony.
The TED-like event for incoming UNLV students featured faculty, student leaders, and Life is Beautiful music festival creator Rehan Choudhry — who received thunderous cheers after surprising attendees with a free ticket to next month’s festival.
As the throng of Rebel red T-shirt-wearing freshman packed the Cox Pavilion on Friday, the excitement for the new adventure was palpable.
“UNLV Creates is our way of formally welcoming students into the Rebel family,” explained Senior Vice Provost Carl Reiber. “But it also brings forward the meaning of going to the university, to blend high quality academics with involvement in scholarship and research.”
Faculty showed their presence, too, with more than 400 professors and staff attending the mid-morning event, Reiber said. “They have a deep dedication to make sure our freshman get the best education they can and make sure they graduate,” he said.
UNLV is set to welcome its largest-ever entering class for the fourth consecutive year, with more than 4,000 new freshmen starting classes this fall.
Four professors shared their own college and professional experiences to encourage the more than 2,500 attendees to make the most of their time here.
Brendan O'Toole, director of the Mendenhall Innovation Program and professor of mechanical engineering, spoke about student-centered research projects in the college, including an ATV and a 3D-printed prosthetic hand for a local girl. Criminal Justice professor Emily Salisbury discussed the national mass incarceration problem, how it affects students, and why they should "dare to care."
Steven Clarke, director of UNLV's Downtown Design Center and an architecture professor, stressed student and community involvement in his group’s Historic Westside Community Plan. Mechanical engineering professor Paul Oh inspired students to think big while outlining the robotics program he recently launched at UNLV.
Choudhry urged students to take risks, operate a bit outside their comfort zones, and follow their true passions. He emphasized the importance of college as a time for both personal and professional growth through the lens of his own college and career experience, which led him from IT guy to entrepreneur and festival creator.
Succeed on Purpose
For freshman Isabella Malfavon, UNLV Creates reset her approach to the semester. “It calmed my nerves a bit as I was very nervous about college, especially my career path and if I’m doing the right thing,” said Malfavon, who is studying comprehensive medical imaging.
Malfavon who made that career choice in high school, said she was more invigorated to follow her passion after hearing what Choundhry and the professors speak.
Choundhry also inspired Malfavon to “get more involved in my college life, instead of just checking boxes.”
The free Life is Beautiful festival tickets were also an unexpected surprise, said freshman Bryvin Durham. The nursing student called all the talks inspirational. “It challenged me to think differently. It was very exciting,” he said.
UNLV Creates is aimed at highlighting creativity, inspiration, and discovery in such a way that new students are energized about the transformative opportunities of a college degree.
The event included an academic invocation in which the university community welcomed the incoming fall class of 2015.
Within the ceremony, students learned the fight song and were introduced to recent university points of pride. Most important, students were asked to make a pledge to graduate from UNLV and were given a red cord to bring back to graduation four years from now.
“UNLV is committed to creating an environment conducive to academic success – from the day students arrive on campus for orientation, during their academic career, and into their chosen fields,” said Reiber.