Student Speaker Kyla Vaughan Ready to Inspire Incoming Badgers at New Student Convocation 

The 2021 New Student Convocation speaker — Kyla Vaughan. Photo by Amanda Halzel.
The 2021 New Student Convocation speaker — Kyla Vaughan. Photo by Amanda Halzel.

As campus celebrates welcoming its largest incoming class in history, first-year and new transfer students will continue a long-standing tradition — New Student Convocation.

The celebration is UW–Madison’s formal welcome ceremony for all new students.  For thousands of incoming students, the event commemorates their entry into higher education and marks the beginning of their journey at UW.

Beyond academics, Convocation is an opportunity for students to come together as the class of 2025 for the first and only time until their Commencement at Camp Randall. It’s a chance to learn about the traditions, pride, and values that come along with being a Badger — the perfect time to get together with fellow classmates and learn the words to “On, Wisconsin!” and “Varsity.”

Students will hear remarks from Chancellor Blank and other members of university leadership, and Kyla Vaughan (anticipated graduation date of Spring of 2022) — this year’s selected student speaker.

Vaughan, a senior double majoring in English Literature and History, is eager to share her story with new students and encourage them to explore their passions and be true to themselves.

“I went to Convocation my first year, and I loved seeing how many people were excited to be a part of this university, just like I was,” says Vaughan. “I’ve found my home with the people that I’ve met here, and they feel like family to me. I’m queer, and I never really had the acceptance I desired in high school, from peers or my family, but coming to UW–Madison changed that.  I want to let the incoming class know that it will be okay — no matter how cheesy it sounds.”

Throughout her years on campus, Vaughan served as a SOAR orientation assistant and as a teaching fellow for the Wisconsin Experience Seminar.  Her favorite memories on campus include sledding down the steep hill behind Waters Residence Hall and acting out scenes from plays with her classmates in a Shakespeare course. Outside of academics, Vaughan enjoys playing Dungeons and Dragons, attending live theater, and exploring museums.

“My best advice for incoming Badgers is to always take time for yourself,” she says. “You are your number-one priority, even with all of the demands of college. It is never selfish to practice self-care. Don’t be afraid to reach out or speak up, as the most meaningful connections can come from the most mundane of starts.”

New Student Convocation, hosted by the Center for the First-Year Experience, takes place on Friday, Sept. 3, 1:45–3:15 p.m., at the Kohl Center.

Following the event, students are invited to attend the New Student Ice Cream Welcome and Lawn Games, Badger Welcome BBQ, and Night at the Overture. Full details can be found here.

Please note that face masks are required for all attending Convocation at the Kohl Center, in accordance with the chancellor’s COVID-19 orders.