The University of Santo Tomas virtually welcomed over 11,000 first-year students for A.Y. 2021-2022. Livestreamed through the official UST and the UST Tiger TV Facebook pages, the virtual ceremonies that included an opening Mass, entrance through the Arch of the Centuries recreated in Minecraft, and an interactive orientation were held on August 5, 2021.
In his homily for the Eucharistic Celebration that began the freshman welcome festivities, UST Rector Very Rev. Fr. Richard G. Ang, O.P., Ph.D., welcomed the new Thomasians and bid them to “always be the first-rate version of yourselves – your intelligence, emotions, talents, and character are God’s precious gifts. Develop them.”
Fr. Ang encouraged the new cohort of freshmen to value their education and be passionate about learning. “Seize this opportunity and take advantage of it, for not everyone has a fair share of chances. You are most fortunate to be given a chance to continue your education. Don’t put it to waste,” Fr. Ang said.
After the Mass, freshmen virtually participated in the annual Thomasian Welcome Walk (TWW), hosted on the UST Minecraft Server. Now in its second year, the virtual event took the place of the traditional Welcome Walk where, since 2002, freshmen symbolically entered the University through the historic Arch of the Centuries to signify the start of their Thomasian life.
Following the Welcome Walk, freshmen joined the ROARientation where the UST Tiger TV, under the auspices of the Communications Bureau, introduced new Thomasians to UST student services offered by the Miguel de Benavides Central Library. Interviews with the Prefect of Libraries Rev. Fr. Angel A. Aparicio, O.P., Chief Librarian Ms. Ma. Cecilia D. Lobo, and General Reference and Information Section Head Librarian Ms. Raquel B. Lontoc explained to freshmen how to borrow and return physical books through courier services and book drops, how to create and access library accounts to view e-books and e-journals, and how to ask for help from librarians through the virtual office on Google Meet, among others.
Using a variety show format, the ROARientation engaged students in various interactive activities and segments, which informed them about the student services offered to Thomasians and important facts and interesting trivia about the University.
A segment called “Thomazing Race” where game contestants explored the reconstructed campus in Minecraft, effectively touring the online audience through key spots in UST.
The founder of the Order of Preachers, St. Dominic de Guzman, and the Dominican friar, philosopher, and Doctor of the Church, St. Thomas Aquinas, after whom the University is named, were introduced to the freshmen through the ROARientation, in a creative talk show format.
Rev. Fr. Christopher Jeffrey L. Aytona, O.P., from the Caleruega Philippines Retreat Center and Ecclesiastical Faculties Academic Collaboration Officer Mr. Leo-Martin Angelo R. Ocampo, O.P., answered questions in-character as St. Dominic and St. Thomas, respectively. Through their conversation, freshmen also learned about the history of the University and the quality Catholic education offered by UST.
Regular classes began on August 12, 2021. UST utilizes the enhanced virtual mode delivery of instruction.