When students apply and are accepted to the Jepson School of Leadership Studies, they begin their journey with a formal ceremony: Prelude.

The school welcomed the class of 2014, its largest class to date, Nov. 7 in the Jepson Alumni Center. New faculty member Kristin Bezio delivered the keynote address.

“You have chosen to be here because you have the curiosity and the courage to do something different, to be part of a community of scholars unlike any other in the world,” she said.

Bezio told students she was drawn to the Jepson School for many of the same reasons they were: innovation in leadership studies, diverse range of faculty and student interests, and opportunities for civic, social and cultural engagement.

“The mission of the Jepson School is to advance the understanding of leadership and the challenges of ethical and effective engagement in society. Its purpose is to explore fundamental questions about who we are, how we live together and how we influence the course of history,” she said. “We need only to turn on the news or walk down the street to know that these are critical questions, not only in an academic setting but in the world at large.”

Bridget Wiede, ’12, and Colin Billings, ’13, reflected on their experiences in the Jepson School.

“The major means very different things to my peers,” said Wiede. “I have friends who double majored in psychology or married the study of leadership with business. There are others who have a passion for health care and some who study theater. These students have been able to … create a major that is unique and personal to them.”

She encouraged students to not confine themselves to one description of what leadership studies is or is not. Instead, she said, “recognize that the advantage of majoring in leadership studies and of being a Jepson student is the intellectual possibility you have been granted.”

Dean Sandra J. Peart welcomed students and noted their diverse interests and backgrounds. She also encouraged students to take advantage of the unique multidisciplinary nature of the school.

“Now more than ever the questions of what constitutes good leadership and how we might become effective and engaged citizens have become paramount,” she said. To answer those questions, “I encourage you to use all the different colored glasses we offer you.”