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Springsteen Speaks at First-Year Convocation

The annual freshmen parade down Linden Lane to Alumni Stadium for freshman convocation was missing this year, as members of the Class of 2024 remained in their dorm rooms and were addressed by keynote speaker Bruce Springsteen over Zoom. 

The award-winning musician spoke to Boston College freshmen remotely from a music studio, and encouraged the Class of 2024 to cherish their time at BC while sharing advice on how to live a fulfilling life.

“To be young in this beautiful and accommodating city and to be engaged in the life of this school is a great, great privilege,” Springsteen said.

The freshman class has gained unique experience by living through the novel coronavirus pandemic, Springsteen said, as its members have already learned to “appreciate the underappreciated.”

Some members of the Class of 2024 said they were glad any kind of ceremony could be held, but wished it could have been in person.

“I was grateful that they went through all this effort to like make this thing happen with all the COVID regulations but it was sad that that we didn’t get to do the symbolic walk,” said Kelly 

Gardner, MCAS ’24, in an interview with The Heights. “I think [freshman year has been] pretty normal, we have normalized having everything online, these big events online. It did not seem abnormal or strange or anything.”

Jackie Doud, also MCAS ’24, said she would have liked to see Springsteen in person.

“It was nice that they [BC] did something but it definitely would have been cool to see him in person, especially him because he is such a performer.” said Jackie Doud, also MCAS ’24. 

Casey Beaumier, S.J., the director of the Institute for Advanced Jesuit Studies, was the first administrator to speak, leading a prayer for the new class.

“We believe the Class of 2024 is a blessing for our Jesuit, Catholic University,” Beaumier said. “These young women and men will become part of the solution for the many challenges that the world, the nation, that our faith faces at this time.”

Other administrators relayed the famous Jesuit motto of “go forth and set the world on fire,” and urged the freshman class to grow throughout their education.

University President Rev. William P. Leahy, S.J., spoke, welcoming the freshmen once again.

“[Boston College] is a community of caring, it is a community that is clearly engaged in developing talents and gifts, we need you as individuals who desire to develop your gifts and to receive from others,” Leahy said. “We are serious about individuals developing their talents and giving them to others.”

Springsteen spoke about never getting a college degree, noting he learned by growing up in the music industry.

“I am 70 years old, but I do not and will never have a college degree,” Springsteen said. “I have grown up in the music business which is filled with many odd and unusual creatures and one learns experientially and not from the book.”

He went on to discuss how he regrets never having a college experience, and urged the class to take advantage of their time on the Heights in order to set themselves up for the rest of their lives.

Satisfying work is an important component of a happy and successful life, Springsteen said, as he mentioned that he worked in a bar in his hometown where he loved playing music.

“Don’t just do well, as they say, ‘do good,’” Springsteen said. ”Choose something that makes you happy, that makes you want to get up and go to work in the morning and that allows you to rest easy at night.”

He told students that they needed to love and allow for others to love them which would position them to be of value to their families and communities. The Grammy Award-winner then encouraged the freshman class to be active citizens. He said that not voting is a “sin,” as it is such an important privilege given to citizens.

“Learn how to be an informed, active, and engaged citizen,” Springsteen said. “Your country needs you, your vision, your energy, and your love.”

He concluded by telling the class to “heal thyself.” He remarked that there are a lot of struggles in life, but that good times will be sure to come as well.

“There will be plenty of laughter to come and love,” Springsteen said. “Love is all there is, love your neighbors, love your friends, love your family, love your partner, and love yourself.”

The Liturgy Arts Group then closed the ceremony with a performance of Alma Mater. The convocation concluded as yet another event, including orientation, the involvement fair, and the Mass of the Holy Spirit, that has been moved online as a result of the coronavirus. 

September 11, 2020