Lycoming College will welcome the Class of 2016 to campus during its annual New Student Convocation at 4 p.m. Friday.
The traditional ceremony marking the beginning of the academic year will be held on the college's Upper Quad near Clarke Chapel. In the event of inclement weather, the ceremony will be held in the Recreation Center.
Check in for freshmen students will take place from 9 a.m. to noon Aug. 24. Lycoming's Move-in Crew, comprised on students and staff, will be on hand to assist. Upperclassmen may check into the residence halls Saturday or Sunday. Classes begin Aug. 27.
The New Student Convocation guest speaker will be Lycoming alumna Lauren Lawson-Zilai, director of public relations and national spokeswoman for Goodwill Industries International, a social enterprise that provides job training to more than 4 million people a year through the sale of donated clothes and household goods in stores and online.
The new students hail from 22 states and 10 foreign countries. The class boasts SAT scores well above national and state averages; 57 freshmen received invitations to Lycoming's Scholars Program and 22 are high school valedictorians or salutatorians.
Though their academic interests are diverse, many plan to pursue study in the college's archaeology, biology, business, criminal justice, education and psychology programs. The class will see the highest number of students planning to pursue majors in astronomy, physics and chemistry when compared to previously enrolled classes. Outside the classroom, one out of three students plan to participate in varsity athletics and one out of four plan to participate in college's music and theatre ensembles.
Lawson-Zilai earned a bachelor's degree in English literature with a minor in mass communications from Lycoming in 1999. Her prior nonprofit experience includes serving as the public relations representative for the Children's Defense Fund, Doorways for Women and Families and Greater D.C. Cares. She began her career in New York City, where she led publicity campaigns for authors at book publishers including AOL-Time Warner, Eagle Publishing, Penguin Putnam and Simon and Schuster. She is the past president of Washington Women in Public Relations, an organization in the greater Washington, D.C., area dedicated to advancing women in the public relations field. She is the founder of the Emerging Leaders Award, a special accolade for young women ages 21 to 30 who have made a significant impact in the communications industry. She also is the recipient of the Entrepreneurship Achievement Award from the Greater Washington Women's Network.
At Lycoming, Lawson-Zilai was a member of Big Brothers Big Sisters, Circle K International, Habitat for Humanity, the Pennsylvania State Education Association and United Campus Ministries. She was a recipient of the Big Brothers Big Sisters Award as well as the Helen R. Hoover Community Service Award. Lawson-Zilai is also a graduate of the Denver Publishing Institute.