Gia Harrell shows new students how to "throw up the U"

New students welcomed with virtual, signature fanfare

By Ashley A. Williams

New students welcomed with virtual, signature fanfare

By Ashley A. Williams
The ’Cane spirit reigned during the University’s annual President’s Welcome and ’Canes Take Flight event.

While the annual President’s Welcome and ’Canes Take Flight event looked and felt considerably different this year, the vibrancy and impact still prevailed. Instead of its traditional in-person assembly, the signature program that welcomes new and transfer students to the University of Miami went virtual Wednesday night.

All summer long, the Division of Student Affairs team worked day after day to ensure the one-of-a-kind student and family move-in week experience would remain the same as past years.

“Their creativity in the face of unprecedented circumstances this year is a testament to their love for the U and their passion for making your student experience life changing,” President Julio Frenk said to the nearly 1,500 people tuned in. “While we are not all together physically this year, we are ready to support each one of you.”

During his address, President Julio Frenk welcomed new students and their families as they prepare to embark on the next chapter of the academic journey.

“This class is 2,857 students strong—2,402 of you starting college next week, and 455 of you transferring to the U. Thirty-four percent of our first-year students this year come from Florida, while the rest hail from every corner of this nation—44 out of 50 states,” Frenk said.

He went on to encourage students, faculty, staff, and families to respect others, keep physical distance while insisting on connection, and to engage in learning in and beyond the classroom. 

Jeffrey Duerk, provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs,  also addressed the new students and their families on Wednesday evening. The provost, who was a transfer student himself, took a moment to empathize with the new students as they embark on the next chapter of their lives.

“Whether you are a first-year student, transfer student, residential or commuter student, international student, and for the first time this year, a fully remote student, you will each have unique experiences and create lifelong connections that will shape your future and the U,” said Duerk. “We are mindful and grateful that you have entrusted our University with the education of your student. I especially want to acknowledge that the transition to hybrid, onsite, and remote instruction is possible thanks to your support.” 

Hosted by the Department of Orientation & Commuter Student Involvement, each year the festive orientation program not only welcomes new students with fanfare, but it provides a sendoff for their families. 

“Through the use of technology, creativity, and our team of over 150 student staff, we are proud to offer programs that enrich our university traditions,” said Michael Baumhardt, director of orientation and commuter student involvement. “Our virtual ’Cane Kickoff program this year is exciting in that it allows all students, whether taking courses in-person or remotely, to transition into UM and begin to build their community.”

’Cane Kickoff program coordinators Michelle Marino and Gia Harrell explained to the incoming students how they can embrace what it means to be a true Miami Hurricane. From learning about the university’s rich history, to being shown how to properly “throw up the U,” to learning the famous “C-A-N-E-S” spell out cheer, the duo gave the group a thorough lesson on how to begin life as a ’Cane.

Also welcoming the new ’Canes were Abigail Adeleke, student government president; Manny Diaz, head coach of Miami Hurricanes Football; Mike Rumph, assistant coach of cornerbacks; Amy Deem, director of track and field and cross country; Octavia Blue, women’s basketball assistant coach; Sebastian the Ibis mascot; the Frost Band of the Hour; the Sunsations dance team; UCheer; and the Hurricane Bhangra dancers, among others.

“As we go on this journey together, let’s get ready for this new normal ahead because we know that when we all come together as a community, we are ultimately stronger,” said Adeleke. “Let’s wear our masks, let’s social distance, and let’s keep each other accountable—because ’Canes care for ’Canes.”