August 11, 2015

Earlier this summer we held a pair of pre-Orientation events for incoming first year students and their families.

Following a brief welcome, the students and parents were separated into two groups. My job was to talk with the parents about the ACPHS experience and the journey the students would soon begin. Having been in the shoes of these parents with each of my three children, I understood the mix of emotions that they were feeling.

My message to the parents was a simple one. The biggest challenge their child would face was not the rigors of the curriculum or learning to adjust to college life. It was their new found independence.

Most of these students will be living on their own for the first time. For parents, it means now having to walk the difficult line between letting go and remaining supportive during what is often the last step on the road to adulthood.

“And in the same way that I know our recent graduates will succeed in the workplace, I feel similarly confident that the newly matriculated students will succeed in their studies.”

As I spoke with the group, my mind flashed back to our commencement ceremony just six weeks earlier. Even though orientation and commencement are at opposite ends of the academic spectrum, they share much in common. Students in each group are transitioning from one stage of their lives to another. They are filled with enormous potential and optimism but often some anxiety too. And in the same way that I know our recent graduates will succeed in the workplace, I feel similarly confident that the newly matriculated students will succeed in their studies.

That is because they won’t travel this academic path on their own. I explained to the parents that their children will be supported by an ACPHS community focused on helping each student achieve her or his goals, whatever they may be. This group is comprised of:

Faculty – Our faculty will introduce these students to the world of ideas. They are here to help students discover talents and develop skills they never knew they had. Students should spend time getting to know the faculty so that they may tap into their knowledge and experience as they begin to define their own career paths.

Staff – Our staff of librarians, counselors, coaches, advisors, and other professionals work tirelessly to ensure that the environment and resources are in place for students to be successful. Though some of the staff’s work may take place “behind the scenes,” this group plays a critical role in making sure the student experience is the best it can be.

Students – Our students are a close knit group and the community of peers will be a constant source of support. Not only will the new students develop enduring friendships with their classmates, but the upperclassmen will also reach out to connect with them. The common experiences they all share as ACPHS students will lead to the formation of lifelong bonds.

Over the next several years, the students in our incoming class will experience tremendous personal and professional growth. They will wrestle with ideas. They will learn new concepts. Most importantly, they will be awakened to a professional calling – one that allows them to use their unique talents to benefit humanity through the advancement of human health.

And sooner than they realize, these students will cross the stage to receive their diplomas. It is our responsibility as a college community to successfully guide them along their paths, enabling them to realize their potential and the great promise that lies ahead.

Greg Dewey, Ph.D., is President of Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.

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