On Saturday 15th February we celebrated the start of the 2020 Academic year with a Matriculation Service, officially welcoming our first year students into St John’s College.
The afternoon began with Tribal Experiences giving a Welcome to Country and a tribal smoking ceremony with the burning of gum leaves to create blessings for our Freshers as they embark on this new and exciting journey.
Led by Turrbal Elder, Tommy Bundambah, this was a powerful and moving ceremony.
The Chapel Service followed with the Freshers all signing the St John’s register, now all official members of the College.
Warden, Rose Alwyn gave an empowering speech about the importance of traditions and being a part of such a wonderful and unique community (speech below).
The afternoon ended with the first Formal Dinner for 2020. We are very excited that the Freshers have arrived and are settling into life at St John’s College.
It is interesting how it doesn’t take long before something becomes a tradition – it hasn’t previously been a tradition for the Warden to address students at the Matriculation Service and as long as I don’t talk for too long, then it could become tradition!
It is a tradition at St John’s to mark your entrance into university with this Matriculation Service which gives us some time to think about our personal goals, our academic goals and what sort of contribution we hope to make this year to the College and the wider community.
Over the last few days you’ve heard me talk about how traditions come and go and that the really good traditions last forever, such as dining communally at Formal Dinner, the wearing of academic gowns.
St John’s is a university college founded in the Anglican tradition with the specific aim to broaden and deepen a student’s university education. The ethos, history and opportunities of St John’s can give you, as students the best all-round educational experience – one that includes academic, cultural, sporting, community service, spiritual social and other opportunities. The faith in the collegiate ethos is why you are here and it is certainly, why I am here.
To all of you first year students – right now you find yourself in an entirely new world made up of entirely new people.
It is an exciting time, a new adventure and can be a wonderful test of your personal independence and growth, but it can also be a test of your recognition that you are who you are for many reasons. You do not have to be who other people want,, or expect you to be, and you do not have to feel pressured from other people around you. You never have to do what other people are doing or join in something you’re not keen to explore.
Be your authentic self and try not to worry about what others think. Know your strengths because this will allow you the confidence and skills to make wise choices and good decisions.
For those people who are JRR Tolkien fans you may remember in the scene in the Fellowship of the Ring when Sam, looking forlorn says:
“This is it”
Frodo turns around to Sam and says “this is what?”
“If I take on more step, it’ll be the farthest away from home I’ve ever been”
Frodo pauses and says “Come on Sam, Remember what Bilbo used to say “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
At College, potential new and enriching friendships are all around you. Put yourself out there and step outside of your comfort zone – you never know what you will learn.
And when you do step out of your comfort zone, “make good decisions”.
Understand that your time at College and University is precious, and you have a source of vast knowledge at your fingertips.
Don’t just attend university. Engage with your coursework.
Engage with the content, with your lectures and tutorials because this will ensure that you are getting the information you need (not to mention that’s also what you will be paying for).
Know you are capable of working incredibly hard and never let anyone convince you otherwise.
Take advantage of the opportunities living in College gives you – even if it is just learning from another student who has grasped a concept more quickly than you – or vice-versa. Seek help from the tutors because that is what they are there for. Ask questions. Challenge theory and thought.
Put in the time, work hard, be humble but confident, and you will achieve success.
Remember to appreciate how lucky you are right now to be in a place and at a time that allows you to simply have the opportunity to gain an education.
Live according to your family values and to the values at St John’s – simply because we have a mutual responsibility to live according to those values and to negotiate what it means to live them together.
We always need to be able to answer the question – is the way I am living consistent with St John’s Values? Am I being true to myself and true to the College Values?
St John’s great strength is the positive ways its Values have been lived and have evolved over generations.
During the year, seek advice and perspective from friends and mentors. Find communities of support within the greater St John’s community. Make connections that will allow you to thrive.
Be open to the possibilities and opportunities of which you have never dreamed. This is the beginning of your new adventure and we are really happy that you are here at St John’s
You are all here for such a short time relative to your whole life yet it is one of the most critical periods of your life, where you make lifelong friends, establish your work habits, make decisions about your career. You have the chance for endless discussions about the realities of life and a stimulating community in which to belong.
Make the most of your time here as a resident student member for St John’s is a place where you will belong for life.
Rose Alwyn, Warden.