Proud students showed off the Florida Polytechnic University campus to their families and relaxed at the fall Phoenix Family Day on Saturday, Oct. 19.
“I am impressed by how friendly everyone is here and how concerned everyone is with the needs of students,” said Greg Giordano, who was on campus visiting his son, freshman computer science major Joseph Giordano. “It seems like they really care.”
The Giordano family was among about 300 people who braved a drizzly morning for a chance to have another up-close look at the campus and the resources available to students.
“I think this is wonderful because we get to see what’s going on,” Greg Giordano said. “We can see he’s very happy.”
Cloudy skies didn’t keep the cheerful crowd from joining in fun activities at the Student Development Center, such as giant Jenga, board games, and watching a performance by the student drum line. “I think this is a great thing,” said Carrie Roessler, who was visiting her son, computer engineering junior Jensen Roessler. “I like the fact that there is this fun day that gives us some relief to know he’s in a good place.”
After a barbecue lunch, the families joined Dr. Randy K. Avent, Florida Poly’s president, in officially opening Oak Grove, a new outdoor space designed to be a relaxing spot for students to gather and socialize.
Avent said the area was slated to become a parking lot before students asked to let the tall, mature trees remain as a recreational area on campus.
“Places like these are great for students to come, socialize with other students, get out of the dorm and take a break from studying,” Avent said.
The Oak Grove is one of several major growth plans on Florida Poly’s horizon, including the coming Applied Research Center, a future Student Achievement Center, and a robust research park. “We are here today setting the foundation for what’s to come,” said mechanical engineering senior and SGA President Ryan Perez. “There’s many ways for us to expand and the Oak Grove is just the beginning.”
The day continued with a fun and colorful celebration of diversity with Florida Poly’s inaugural Diversity Fest. In spite of the rainy weather, individuals and groups from around Polk County joined students, faculty, and staff in setting up multiple education stations on campus.
Senior Orel Yoshia and sophomore Roy Araky Cohen set up an exhibit to highlight their Jewish traditions. They said it is important for them to share who they are as well as providing support to Jewish students on campus. Currently, they are working on creating an official Jewish student club at the University.
“We are a small community here at Florida Poly, but we’re here and we want everyone to see us,” said Yoshia, a computer science major.
“We want to let other Jewish students know they don’t need to be scared, they’re not alone,” added Araky Cohen, who is majoring in mechanical engineering. “They can count on us to help them exist.”
The event also featured about a dozen performances highlighting different cultural dances and traditions. These included a variety of Indian dance and percussion, merengue, Haitian dance, Asian hip-hop, among other performances.
The event served as a platform for attendees and participants to learn more about one another, and helped students remain connected to their heritage.
“The Diversity Fest is a great opportunity to strengthen the bonds between the University and our community,” said Rick Maxey, assistant vice president of economic development and board management. “This event showcases the various cultures, groups, and identities that make us a wonderful place to live, work, and play.”
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