A writer who lived in Japan for four years before finding her way to Meadville.
A Botswana native who traveled to six of the seven continents before beginning a quest to learn Braille.
A female blacksmith who plays the flute and operates a gardening business.
They and their classmates embody the unusual combinations of talents, skills and interests that the Class of 2021 brings to Allegheny College.
“No two people from Allegheny are the same, and I believe that’s what brings everyone together,” said Ta’Tyana Whitehead, an 18-year-old incoming first-year student from Charlotte, North Carolina.
Whitehead, who plans to major in pre-health/biochemistry, found a passion for helping students with disabilities while volunteering for Special Olympics during high school, a passion she hopes to nurture at Allegheny. She and another student she met at an orientation event have talked about starting a club on campus for students who want to volunteer for Special Olympics events.
“What I’m most excited about starting this new journey in my life is stepping out of my comfort zone … becoming the women I’m supposed to be,” Whitehead said.
The incoming class, welcomed at a convocation and matriculation ceremony today in Raymond P. Shafer Auditorium, represents 377 high schools in 37 states and 26 countries in addition to the United States. The top 10 states from which enrolled students originate are Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, California, Texas, Florida, Maryland, New Jersey, Virginia and Georgia.
Twenty-eight percent of incoming students identify as students of color, matching a 2016—17 record for the most diverse incoming class. Three percent are international students.
Allegheny President James H. Mullen, Jr. welcomed the class, students who each bring “a promise to our campus that is uniquely you.”
“The world that you will inherit in four years is diverse and complicated and filled with difference,” Mullen said. “We did not invite you to Allegheny to insulate you from that world — we invited you here to share in the exciting and rich experience of preparing you for it. We invited you to Allegheny so we could help you embrace that world, thrive in that world and help shape that world. We invited you to Allegheny because we are confident that you have the character to do so.”
Fifty-five percent of the incoming class graduated in the top 20 percent of their high school classes, with an average GPA of 3.47. Fifty-three percent participated in some form of civic engagement in high school.
“We are very proud to welcome our new students to Allegheny and our tradition of academic excellence that spans more than two centuries,” said Ron Cole, provost and dean of the college. “The students in the Class of 2021 will be prepared and challenged over the next four years to develop as leaders and scholars who make a positive difference in our communities and world.”
Cornell LeSane II, vice president for enrollment and dean of admissions, said he enjoyed getting to know many of the incoming students throughout the admissions process.
“They represent our unusual combinations to the fullest and will be a great addition to the campus community,” LeSane said. “I am looking forward to witnessing how the newest members of the Allegheny family will leave their mark over the next four years and beyond.”
Allegheny recently launched a new business economics program and concentrations, an applied liberal arts experience in which students learn across disciplines and explore real-world problems. Engaging in a concentration — possibilities include law and policy, peace and conflict, science and society and more — helps students to tell a clear story that weaves together what they learn in and out of the classroom.
The college is also offering new scholarships in music, theater and dance and will host the first biennial Unusual Combinations Piano Competition on Saturday, Nov. 11. The competition for high school students features more than $10,000 in prizes and scholarships. For more information, contact Douglas Jurs at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit allegheny.edu/pianocompetition.