Welcome Week impresses with inaugural New Student Cavalcade


Erin Henze

Students hoot and holler for the Blue Man Group as the performers get on stage. The group sprayed paint into the crowd shortly after they began their performance with Student Government Association (SGA) President Kevin Holechko and SGA Vice President Magoli Garcia.

The day before the official start of the new school year, over 2,000 DePaul students gathered at the Quad for the university’s largest welcome week event this year, Blue Demon Welcome.

Blue Demon Welcome 2022 was the second new student convocation in school history. DePaul had its first new student convocation only three years ago in 2019 at Wintrust arena.

This year, the event was reworked to include as many DePaul community members as possible.

Freshmen, commuter students, international students and transfer students were invited to partake in the New Student Cavalcade, marching from McGrath-Phillips Arena to the Quad. At the end of the procession, upperclassmen, faculty and staff welcomed the new students to their new home.

Leaders at the university spoke to the students from a giant stage on the quad.

Students hoot and holler for the Blue Man Group as the performers get on stage. The group sprayed paint into the crowd shortly after they began their performance with Student Government Association (SGA) President Kevin Holechko and SGA Vice President Magoli Garcia. (Quentin Blais)

“So today, our new students all marched from McGrath-Phillips Arena,” said Chris Anthony, an assistant professor at The Theatre School. “You marched from there. But wait, there’s more. Because in a few short years and trust me, it will go by fast, you will march at Wintrust Arena for your commencement.”

DePaul’s new president Rob Manuel also spoke to the students, expressing his excitement about starting a new journey together.

“There’s something about being in the same boat together,” said Manuel. “We’re going to travel this course for four years [or more] at the same time, and I’m looking forward to seeing how you look at DePaul with new eyes as the way I am looking at it with new eyes.”

After the speakers welcomed new students, students turned to their left, where surprise performers appeared outside of University Hall.

The Blue Man Group Arrives

Three blue men in matching black outfits raised their arms to silently greet DePaul’s Blue Demons.

The men were escorted to the stage, joining Kevin Holechko, Student Government Association (SGA) president and senior, and Magoli Garcia, SGA vice president and junior, for an interactive performance.

The performers played with flowers, handcuffs, a candy box and a game of Twister before suddenly pulling out paint brushes, a massive canvas and neon paint.

Before Holechko could protect himself with the canvas sign, one of the performers from the Blue Man Group sprayed him in the face with a slash of bright orange paint. 

Thanks to the leaf blower used by performers to blow paint quite literally everywhere, a mix of blue and bright orange soon covered the legs of Holechko and Garcia.

After covering the sign and student government leaders in paint, the performers pulled off a segment of the paper covering the canvas so the sign read “WELCOME TO DEPAUL” in white with the paint splotches in the background.

Returning students met in the quad to greet and cheer on the incoming freshmen and new transfer students. Returners held rally towels, balloons and DePaul gear while the new students walked through an inflatable entrance. (Erin Henze)

Students React

Blue Demon Welcome was a roaring success. The sounds of giggles and cheering filled the quad throughout the event.

But the laughter, applause and cheers weren’t only for that night. From Aug. 27 to Sept. 8, DePaul’s Office of Student Involvement hosted Welcome Week events for everyone on campus. Every year, the events are geared to help students create new friendships through opportunities on campus. This year, students got to recreate the experience of Build-a-Bear, sing karaoke in the Student Center, ride a trolley to Navy Pier to watch the evening fireworks show, win DePaul merchandise from a game of BINGO and even play bumper cars and laser tag in the Student Center. 

Declan Canaday, one of the attendees and sophomore, said they came to the Blue Demon Welcome event because they wanted to participate in one of the activities before the school year started and they became busy again.

“I like the community aspect of it,” Canaday said. “You know, getting to see people I already know and hopefully making new friends.”

Compared to Welcome Week last year, Canaday said this year’s events were more intriguing than in previous years.

“I’d say it’s definitely a step up, with the stage and everything, it’s a bit more impressive,” Canaday said.

Mascots from the Chicago White Sox, Chicago Fire and Chicago Bears teams came to Blue Demon Welcome on Sept. 6 to welcome new transfer students and incoming freshmen. (Erin Henze)

Many students other than Canaday noted that another addition to the Welcome Week events was the greater sense of community that was present at every event, but especially at Blue Demon Welcome. Freshman Kate Alvarado said the DePaul community is more accepting than she anticipated. 

“There [are] so many diverse people [here] and it’s so inclusive,” Alvarado said. “I feel like anyone that’s been here can find someone that they mesh well with. It’s been a great experience.”

Holechko said he and the rest of SGA are excited to be back on campus. He said SGA members want to hear what students are wanting and looking for, as he spoke about in his speech to students.

“A big part of our job here, and specifically my job as president, is to be cheering on the students as they embark on a new journey in college, whether this [is] their first year or their fifth or sixth year being here at DePaul,” Holechko said. “It’s our job to support them where we can and we encourage people to come out and see us.”

Honoring Faculty and Staff

Faculty and staff paraded into the St. Vincent de Paul Parish Church on the morning of Sept. 1. Each faculty and staff member was clothed in regalia from their respective university based on their highest degree. 

Following the academic procession where a brass quartet filled the church with delicate melodies, DePaul Provost Salma Ghanem gave the land acknowledgment.  

Many members of DePaul’s faculty and staff were awarded at the academic convocation.

Cynthia Pickett, Associate Provost for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and psychology associate professor, gave the Provost’s Award for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to professor Quinetta Shelby and department of management and entrepreneurship members Helene LaVan, Yvette Lopez and Marty Martin.

Ghanem honored 25 people who were granted either a promotion or tenure.

DePaul President Rob Manuel gives a speech at the academic convocation on Sept. 1. He said he wants his time at DePaul to inspire and restore the university. (Erin Henze)

Rev. Guillermo Campuzano, vice president of Mission and Ministry, awarded the Spirit of DePaul award to associate professor Jay Baglia, associate director of the Honors Program Nancy Grossman, director of Residential Education Rod Waters, custodian Aurora Chavez, director of Housing, Dining and Student Centers Rick Moreci and assistant vice president for the Office of the University Registrar Michael Wright.

Following the multiple awards, Manuel gave a speech that left many faculty and staff members beaming. He talked about how he was going to make it a goal to work alongside the Faculty Council more frequently to aid them in getting what they need to be the best professors for students. He spoke about how he wants to strengthen academic programs and foster new programs within his time at DePaul. He spoke about how he knew what DePaul needed: renewal.

“The world has just had one of the most traumatic two and a half, three years, it’s seen in higher education,” Manuel said in a press conference with DePaul student media. “We’ve had a relatively calm part for education the last 25 years, 30 years. But this shook us. Think of your experiences. You couldn’t do the kinds of things that you expected, or the kind of things that we do really well, to have the education that we know we can deliver. And so that renewal part is required in order to define what it is we’ll be so that that powerful educational experience can continue well into the future.” 

Manuel also mentioned his desire to design DePaul’s future with the help of students, faculty and staff. He said the experiences of the people in the DePaul community will help him form a future at the university that everyone wants. To this, many faculty and staff in the church reacted with a smile and a glimmer of hope in their eyes.

“It’s not about wanting to go back to normal or go back to where we were three years [ago], because I don’t know that the world will ever be that to where it was three years ago,” Manuel said. “It is about purposefully and intentionally defining the future and renewing our commitments to making sure that DePaul education is a national model for all to see.”

As faculty and staff recessed from the church, laughs and smiles, similar to the looks on students’ faces during Welcome Week events, were on the faces of staff and faculty. 

The next large event for the university is on Nov. 11 when Manuel will be inaugurated as the next DePaul president.

Connect with Kiersten Riedford: @kriedford | [email protected]

Connect with Lily Lowndes: @LilyILowndes | [email protected]