New School Year Met with Reinvigorated Sense of Community at Widener

Emily Barrett, associate director of communications
President Robertson stands at the Pride statue in regalia with student leaders during the 2022 academic convocation.
President Stacey Robertson, Megan Sharp, president of the Student Government Association, and C.R.E.W. leaders joined the marching band to sing Widener's school song during Academic Convocation.

The Widener community hummed with excitement as students returned to campus for the start of the fall semester. 

Returning and incoming students stretched throughout every corner of the Chester campus as they settled into residence halls and university spaces ahead of the first day of class. Their return brought a palpable energy that reflected the vibrancy and resiliency of the Widener community. 

Community was the central theme among the messages delivered at Academic Convocation as university and student leaders officially welcomed the Class of 2026. 

President Stacey Robertson, who began her tenure as president on July 1, reflected on her first few weeks and acknowledged the bond she holds with the approximately 600 newest members of the Pride, who hail from 17 states and 14 foreign countries including Germany, Liberia, Mongolia, South Africa, and Iran.

Marina Barnett addresses students from the podium in her academic regalia.
Marina Barnett, associate professor of social work.

“We are all ‘first-year’ students together. That means that we will learn together, get to know campus together, get to know each other together, and celebrate our successes together,” Robertson said. 

In her keynote address, Marina Barnett, associate professor of social work and a respected leader on campus and in the Chester community, noted the possibilities that lie within a robust, supportive learning environment, whether that be on campus, in Chester, or across the globe. 

We are bringing people from different backgrounds, ideologies, and experiences together to one common end: empowering a community of learners to discover and create better futures. As a Widener student, we want you to cultivate curiosity." —Marina Barnett

Barnett also challenged students to seek out opportunities and connections that will broaden their learning experiences over the next four years, and position them to positively influence the future.

“We want you to learn the myriad of ways that your strengths and your abilities can benefit others,” said Barnett.

Whether students join one of the more than 80 clubs and organizations, volunteer at the university-run clinics and centers, or partner with faculty on innovative research, there are countless opportunities to connect, engage, and grow both personally and professionally. 

Megan Sharp delivers her remarks at the podium while faculty watch during academic convocation.
Megan Sharp '23, Student Government Association president.

According to Megan Sharp, president of the Student Government Association who spoke at convocation, getting involved across campus led to meaningful experiences that have shaped her academic career and professional trajectory. 

“I met so many wonderful people and took advantage of everything I could to make my time here at Widener special,” said Sharp, a senior political science and criminal justice dual major. 

Sharp encouraged her peers to explore the experiences that lie ahead in the coming years and to utilize the support and guidance that can be found in their new Widener community. 

“Try new things, reinvent yourself, find yourself, but just know that no matter what happens, whoever you become in your life,” said Sharp, “you will always have a home here at Widener, and you are never alone.” 

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