March Through the Arches is an annual rite of passage on the University of St. Thomas campus, and this year's first-year class embraced the pomp and circumstance with a definite spring in their step.
Jumping for joy, waving flags, and laughing with brand-new friends, the Class of 2026 officially walked onto campus Tuesday, taking its place in a growing community of Tommies. The newest class was hardly alone in its journey as hundreds of parents, staff and faculty lined the sidewalks of the St. Paul campus, cheering and applauding.
"As you pass under these Arches in just a moment, know that you'll be joining a community that welcomes you with great happiness and stands ready to walk with you as you become who you are called to be," Interim President Rob Vischer told students.
While the Class of 2026 has only just arrived, there is already plenty to cheer for. One of the most diverse classes ever, the nearly 1,500 students hail from 35 states and more than 100 transfer institutions. St. Thomas will also have new students from 38 different countries and the largest group of international undergraduates ever.
"But this is not all about numbers and statistics," Vice President of Strategic Enrollment Management Omar Correa said. "You're a group of students that have carefully chosen St. Thomas as the place where you're going to be spending the next several years creating memories. Also, you are now part of this family from this point forward forever. Now you're a Tommie forever."
The Newsroom caught up with several people in attendance to get their thoughts and emotions during the celebration.
I'm most excited about meeting new people and seeing those who are in our class. This is going to be our campus for the next four years ... so I'm excited to find my people and see where I fit in."Elizabeth abarca hernandez, first-year student
It is weird thinking that tomorrow I'll be on a plane back to Arizona and leaving my firstborn child in a different state. But I feel really good about this place and that makes the transition so much easier."Kelly olson stewart, parent of first-year student
I'm looking forward to walking through the Arches again when we graduate. It's a kind of finish line to look forward to."Aniza sahal, first-year student
I'm excited that she's starting her own career, her own life, and wants to be part of college, which in our culture is not kind of normal that students go to college like this. So that's one of the things that I'm really, really excited about."SANTIAGO BRAVO, PARENT OF FIRST-YEAR STUDENT