Signature event welcomes thousands of new students

’Canes Take Flight, the spirited event that kicks off the new academic year, was held Thursday at the Watsco Center. Photo: Mike Montero/University of Miami
By Ashley A. Williams

’Canes Take Flight, the spirited event that kicks off the new academic year, was held Thursday at the Watsco Center. Photo: Mike Montero/University of Miami

Signature event welcomes thousands of new students

By Ashley A. Williams
In a festive celebration at the Watsco Center, President Julio Frenk, members of the faculty, and student leaders formally greeted first-year and transfer students at the annual ’Canes Take Flight program.

For many new University of Miami students, ’Canes Take Flight was more than just an introduction to campus life—it was possibly their first in-person spirited school event in more than a year.

President Julio Frenk, alongside First Lady Felicia Marie Knaul, director of the University’s Institute for Advanced Study of the Americas, took to the Watsco Center stage twice on Thursday to welcome first-year and transfer students to campus. To maintain social distancing, the Department of Orientation and Commuter Student Involvement staff hosted two separate sessions of the festive orientation—one at 2 p.m. and another at 5 p.m.  In addition, participants were instructed to sit two seats apart and masks were mandatory. 

“While some of our practices and behaviors are different than what you might have imagined when you began dreaming of your college days, our ’Cane spirit is as vibrant as it has ever been,” exclaimed Frenk. “As I see it, the ways in which we adapt to changing circumstances are opportunities for you to be a part of something meaningful—the crises we are overcoming together will be the defining moments for your entire generation.”

This fall, 3,189 new students—both domestic and international—will be starting their academic journey at the Coral Gables Campus. In his address, Frenk highlighted that 2,721 are first-year students and 468 are transfers. 

“This is truly a diverse and cosmopolitan class,” said Frenk. “Your hopes, ambitions, and interests are just as diverse as your backgrounds.” 

’Cane Kickoff program coordinators, Gustavo Tovar, Eboni Arnold, and Gabby Aguiar, wanted to ensure that all students felt a warm welcome to the Miami Hurricane family. Like years before, the coordinators shared with the incoming class the University’s rich history, how to properly “put up the U,” and how to chant and spell out the famous “C-A-N-E-S” cheer.

Also welcoming the new ’Canes were Jeffrey Duerk, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost; Landon Coles, Student Government president; Katie Meier, women’s basketball head coach; Manny Diaz, football head coach; mascot Sebastian the Ibis; the Frost Band of the Hour; UCheer cheerleaders; the Sunsations dance team; and the Punjabi folk dance group Hurricane Bhangra. 

Suitemates and first-year students Cassie Martens and Ilana Simmons said that they felt the live energy of the ’Canes Take Flight event and will always remember the spirited introduction as they move into this new chapter of their lives. 

“It was fun and informational at the same time,” said Simmons, who hails from Jacksonville, Florida. “I thought it was really cool how they had the different dance groups perform. And I really enjoyed learning all the cheer stuff, so that I can be game-day ready.”