Occidental Welcomes the Class of 2015
This week Occidental College welcomes the lead guitarist of Disorderly Conduct, a veteran of two tours of duty in Iraq as an Army medic, an Intel Science Talent Search finalist, 31 Model U.N. participants, 20 three-sport athletes, a former aerial circus member, and 0.08 percent of the population of Etna, N.H.: all members of the Class of 2015.
The 540 students who make up the Class of 2015 join 44 transfers from such schools as Brown, Berkeley, and Bryn Mawr for the start of Occidental's 125th academic year, which officially begins on Wednesday, August 31, the first day of classes.
Typical of Occidental students, they are a talented and diverse group representing 35 states, 21 countries, and hometowns ranging from New York City (population: 8.1 million) to Etna (population: 1,258). More than half come from outside California; 5 percent are international students from such places as Jamaica, Hong Kong, Indonesia, and Italy. Some 24 languages are spoken fluently by first-year students, from Amharic to Vietnamese.
Ninety-one percent of the class was ranked in the top 25 percent of their high school graduating class, with a median SAT score of 1950 and ACT score of 29. Almost two-thirds come from public high schools; 20 percent receive federal Pell grants for low- and moderate-income families, and 14 percent are the first in their family to attend college.
Thirty-nine percent of the class is made up of students of color, including 21 percent coming from underrepresented groups: African American, Latino, and Native American/Native Hawaiian.
Apart from their performance in the classroom, if there is a single thread that unites the class, it is athletic competition and community service: 66 percent participated in high school sports, ranging from badminton and boxing to squash and snowboarding. Some 63 percent participated in public service, addressing everything from pediatric cancer and drunk driving to international human rights and affordable housing.
More than half of the class plays a musical instrument, sings, dances, or acts; another 9 percent paint, sculpt, draw, or make films.
Occidental President Jonathan Veitch will officially welcome new students at the traditional Convocation ceremony in Thorne Hall at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, August 31.