Students spent the evening in O’Brien Field listening to speeches, watching performances and competing for prizes during Eastern’s tradition, First Night, Sunday night.
Half of the stands were filled for the event and the students in them were full of pep for the first night before classes.
Student body President Carson Gordon said she was glad First Night was outdoors this year compared to the event being in McAfee Gym last year.
Gordon said she saw the event from a different perspective this year compared to years past.
“When I first came into the position (student body president) I didn’t realize how much goes into something like this, but we put in the work together as an organization,” Gordon said. “A lot of people helped out and I think it went really well, it exceeded my expectations. We had a great turn out.”
Eastern President David Glassman said he enjoyed seeing the students getting involved on campus.
“The energy, the excitement, watching the students become engaged; it’s just a fun night,” Glassman said.
Glassman said this year stood out due to the size of the incoming freshman and transfer class.
“The university momentum is going in such a positive direction and there was even more energy than I’ve seen in the past,” Glassman said.
Gordon said Omar Soloman, an admissions counselor, brought energy to the night, which she said she felt was everybody’s favorite part of the night.
“He’s just so amazing and really livens up the crowd,” Gordon said.
Soloman said he’s been helping with First Night since he was an undergraduate student at Eastern.
“It’s always a great time to give back by kickstarting the new year,” Solomon said.
Soloman said he enjoys the electricity at First Night.
“Bringing the campus together, the faculty, staff and students to kick off the school year, this is one of the rare times where the energy is pure, it’s enthusiastic, it’s contagious and hopefully it spreads to the entire school,” Soloman said.
The Eastern band also saw changes this year with new band director, David Boggs.
Boggs said he enjoyed his first First Night with the Panther Marching Band.
“It was just phenomenal, it was ridiculously fun,” Boggs said.
Boggs came from McKendree University and said they did similar events but not as well, adding that PMB members are especially invested in performing with the band.
“The students are just really into this,” Boggs said. “There’s not scholarship money so they’re doing this simply for the love of marching band.”
Gordon added she thinks First Night will continue to improve for years to come.
“There something kind of bittersweet about it being your last first night but also everyone brought more energy to this one,” Gordon said. “It was the perfect weather; the band did great and the performance were awesome. I really think we’re in a good place to just keep growing up from here.”
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