A sea of purple flooded the St. Thomas grounds Tuesday, Sept. 4, as students and faculty members lined up to welcome 1,460 freshmen, 282 transfer students and 37 international students to the university with the traditional March Through the Arches ceremony.
Kris Roach, director of Admissions and Financial Aid, said she is ecstatic about the incoming freshmen class.
“This is a great class. We are delighted to welcome such an engaged and bright group of students to the UST community,” Roach said.
According to Roach, the class of 2016 has 182 students with a 4.0 high school cumulative grade point average or higher, 29 valedictorians of their graduating classes and six National Merit Finalists.
The incoming freshmen also boast an average ACT score of 25.59, an average GPA of 3.56 and an average 74th percentile class rank of their graduating class.
Roach said that 52 percent of the class is male, while 48 percent is female, a switch in percentages from last year’s incoming class.
Freshman Kendra Smith said she is excited to begin her college career at St. Thomas with the March through the Arches.
“Walking through the arches signifies that we’re all coming together as a whole class,” Smith said. “We’ll both grow together and learn together.”
Freshman Bridget Noack also said that the event was symbolic and motivational.
“It’s really a new beginning,” Noack said. “They said that we would be walking through these arches again at graduation, so this ceremony is an incentive to be able to do it again.”
Freshman Katie Hilgedick said she appreciated the staff’s welcoming part in the process.
“The faculty was excited for us to be here. I think it made us all feel more comfortable,” Hilgedick said.
Prior to the march, Undergraduate Student Government President senior Mike Orth spoke on the importance of on-campus involvement. Marla Friederichs, vice president of admissions and financial aid, spoke about students’ potential to succeed at the university.
Freshman Cole Lulic said that he wants to live up to the “Tommie” title.
“To me, being a Tommie means motivating myself to be the best I can be. St. Thomas holds a high reputation, and I want to meet those standards,” Lulic said.
Following the ceremony was the traditional interfaith prayer and a complimentary picnic on the John P. Monahan Plaza.
Kayla Bengtson can be reached at email@example.com.