Kennesaw State ushers in new semester with annual cake celebration

KENNESAW, Ga. | Aug 17, 2021

Amani Johnson
Amani Johnson

Pacing a stretch of sidewalk that guides students to Kennesaw State University’s Campus Green, Amani Johnson greeted her peers with hefty slices of cake in each hand.

The president of Kennesaw State’s Student Government Association, Johnson was participating in her fourth straight First Day of School Cake celebration, an event held annually during Kennesaw State’s Week of Welcome as a lighthearted way to usher in the fall semester. Beyond signaling the start of the new school year, it also presented an opportunity to engage in some comradery with fellow students between classes, she said.

“It’s been so nice to see everyone’s smiling faces again,” said Johnson, an accounting major who is also member of the women’s basketball team. “This has been a really fun way to connect with other students and allows me to dish out advice to incoming freshmen. It has always been a fun tradition we have at KSU, and I’m glad that I get to play a part in it.”

Kathy Schwaig
Kathy Schwaig
The event kicked off on the Kennesaw Campus in the morning with opening remarks from Interim President Kathy Schwaig. A second event was held on the Marietta Campus in the afternoon, treating students, faculty and staff inside KSU’s Joe Mack Wilson Student Center. In all, KSU’s University Dining spent three days preparing 1,200 cupcakes and 17 sheet cakes in preparation for the First Day of School Cake events. The celebration has been held every fall semester since 2018.

Elsewhere on the Kennesaw Campus, students Jennifer Ortega and Jasmine Palacios set aside their cake slices snap a photo at the picturesque KS monument on the Campus Green. Ortega, one of the more than 8,700 first-year students entering the Fall 2021 semester, had already attended two classes before using her break to indulge a request from her mother for an on-campus selfie. She relished the opportunity to attend classes in-person.

“I’m a visual learner, so I’ve really enjoyed being in the classroom setting,” said Ortega, who is studying psychology. “It has the real college feel that I’ve been looking forward to, and I have the opportunity to meet new people.”

Though just the first day of classes, Ortega has already set a goal of making the dean’s list and pushing outside of her comfort zone to experience new things on campus.

Venu Madhan Naik, who is pursuing a master’s degree in information technology, said that he was charmed by the welcoming atmosphere on the Marietta Campus.

“It is such a warm welcome,” he said after finishing a cupcake. “The university is awesome, and I’m excited to get started.”

Sitting near the globe toward the entrance of the Marietta Campus, mechanical engineering student Abdi Shirwa echoed Naik’s sentiments.

“This is a nice tradition and an excellent way to start the year.”

Colleen Brook and Jordan Gingrich took a break on the plaza between the Convocation Center and the Dr. Betty L. Siegel Student Recreation and Activities Center. The two sat down on the benches to soak up the buzz on campus from the first day of classes as music thumped nearby and a steady flow of traffic milled along the sidewalk. Brook enjoyed a cupcake while Gingrich had a piece of the traditional first-day cake.

“There’s a lot to do today,” said Gingrich, a freshman psychology major. “That’s one of the things that attracted me to KSU—it seems there’s always something to do.”

– Travis Highfield

Photos by Jason Getz

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 45,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit