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UNM freshmen greeted by flamenco fanfare

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Mary Canete, 17, of Gallup, is about to start her first day of classes at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. Sure, she said, she is nervous, but she thinks her parents might be more so. It’ll be her first time away from home.

“I am an only child,” she said. “It’s going to be a really big change.”

Canete was one of hundreds of new freshmen who attended the freshmen convocation at Popejoy Hall on Sunday.

About 3,500 new students will start their higher education at UNM today.

As a memento, the university gave the freshmen students at the Sunday event free UNM T-shirts. Some students wore their new cherry red shirts during the boisterous welcoming ceremony that included a live flamenco performance, a robotics demonstration by the School of Engineering and an energetic student a capella performance that got the audience clapping.

It wasn’t all spectator events, as numerous professors and staff, including basketball coach Craig Neil, welcomed the new students to campus while telling them to make the most of their time at UNM.

President Bob Frank gave the students three pieces of advice:

• Get to know at least some faculty members;

• Take on an internship; and

• Engage in one activity outside of their comfort zone. “Lobos are made and defined by their experiences both inside and outside the classroom. Each of you will be defined by your passions here at the University of New Mexico,” Frank said. “If you’re not sure of what that is, you will need to note that there are many opportunities for you to find it here.”

The ceremony was part of a larger welcome event for the freshmen of 2016.

Following the convocation, freshmen were invited to a reception with ice cream and hot dogs.

And navigating UNM’s large campus can be daunting for some, so upperclassmen on Sunday also showed the new students where individual classes take place.

Shawn Fernandez, 19, of Peñasco, said the campus is much larger than he imagined, saying he would need “10 minutes at least” to navigate from class to class.

He and others will have plenty of time to find them over what administrators hope is the next four years at UNM.