By Christian Colon
On Sept. 3, Sacred Heart University’s student government board hosted its first Pioneer Penny Parade for the class of 2020.
Over 200 students from the incoming freshmen class lined up in front of Seton and Merton Hall and paraded to the university fountain, located at the Ryan Matura library. They tossed a penny into the water, making a wish, as they got ready to begin their first week as undergraduate students.
“Being surrounded by the Sacred Heart community, and having them cheer us on, was definitely an awesome surprise. As I flicked my penny into the fountain, not only did I feel welcomed, but I felt at home,” said freshman Christopher Quigley.
A variety of clubs and organizations made a pathway in the quad, while the freshman class paraded through it. One of the groups participating in the event were current orientation leaders. Sophomore Madeline O’Shaughnessy was one of the leaders that attended.
“As a sophomore watching the freshman walk the penny parade made me realize how fast time really does fly here. It made me reflect upon the fact that a year can make such a great difference in your life because between then and now I have gotten more involved than I ever could have imagined myself to be and made friendships of a lifetime,” said O’Shaugnessy.
Addison Chau, student body president, was the creator of the Pioneer Penny Parade. During the summer, he thought of ideas for the incoming class that were less along the lines of an event and more along the lines of a campus tradition.
“I think traditions are an important part of a student’s experience at Sacred Heart. Whether it is attending the President’s Gala, to wearing your SHUperfan shirt to athletic games, we need to continue to build traditions that will create lasting memories,” said Associate Dean of Students, Denise Tiberio. “The Penny Parade is definitely something I can see becoming a tradition at SHU.”
Although the parade was a brand new project for student government, this year’s goal is to bring back some of the old events held over the past 53 years. Chau said that he spent his summer researching all of the information from prior student government’s boards, dating back to the 1990s.
“I went through every single piece of information and found a lot of great ideas that kind of just faded away over the years. So this year I’m not really trying to start anything new, but just bring to light all of the old foundations we used to have and implement them into campus again,” said Chau. “Not really an ‘in with the new out with the old’ attitude, but an attitude of looking back and going back to basics.”
Just like the Pioneer Penny Parade, the Student Ambassador program at Sacred Heart is also beginning to implement new traditions. This program focuses on giving tours of the campus to prospective students by incorporating the famous mascot, Big Red. At the end of each tour, they have each applicant in their group rub the top of Big Red’s head, which is seated in front of the William Pitt Center, as a symbol of luck.
“I would hope the parade turns into a tradition. It’s something so simple, yet meaningful,” said Quigley. “Throwing the penny not only wishes us good fortune, but it symbolizes us as one family.”