Learning tree

’Berg grad tells newcomers there are many paths to degree

PHOTO BY NICOLE WALBY Michael Weisend, a 1987 graduate of Heidelberg University and distinguished neuroscientist, delivers the keynote address Thursday for the university’s convocation ceremony.

Heidelberg University faculty and staff welcomed 346 new students Thursday morning during the university’s opening convocation ceremonies.

“We are honored you have made Heidelberg University your college of choice,” Heidelberg President Rob Huntington said. “We are focused on education excellence and student success.”

Huntington said he was excited to welcome first-year and returning Heidelberg University students, “bringing their many talents, energy and diversity to campus.”

“This is not the start of a new school year, but the start of a new relationship,” said Michael Weisend, a 1987 graduate of Heidelberg and a senior scientist with Rio Grande Neurosciences, during his keynote address titled “Your ‘How’ Will Determine Your ‘Where.'”

“How your approach the start will determine where you will be in life after leaving Heidelberg,” he said.

Weisend said his experiences at Heidelberg were “irreplaceable.”

“My experiences at Heidelberg helped me pursue my neuroscientific goals,” he said. “I get to travel to crazy places and talk to crazy people.”,

Weisend discussed working with NFL players, Green Berets and economic and academic leaders.

“It is the coolest thing to sit around a table with no one you know and talk about the same thing,” he said.

“When I came to Heidelberg, I felt supported and respected,” he said. “People stopped and listened to what I had to say.”

Weisend also said the main goal for students is not only earning a degree, but being head of the class. To do that, Weisend explained the decision tree, where each fork is a choice.

“There are hundreds of different ways to get to a degree,” he said. “You can focus on teaching, text and good scores, which will ultimately get you to a degree at Heidelberg, but will not ultimately lead you to the head of the class. You don’t want to just be among the hats.”

Weisend said it is more than just earning all A’s.

“You have to be able to get out of your comfort zone,” he said, “to learn what is in the blank spaces, to look beyond the words on the page.”

“Take advantage of what you have here,” he said. “Fill in the blank spaces and you will be at the head of the class at Heidelberg and when you graduate.”