Building Friendships at Ignite the Night 2023

Author Makena Warfield '24 is a Media & Communications Studies major and works as a student assistant at JWU, contributing to JWU News.

With the start of a new school year, JWU’s Charlotte and Providence campuses came alive again with returning students and the new Class of 2027. To welcome new students to each campus, the year kicks off with Ignite the Night, a tradition that has become an important celebration for the JWU community. 

JWU President Maria Bernardo Sousa walking into Gaebe Commons with a pom pom

“This is such an exciting time for first-year students, and Ignite the Night is a moment to celebrate what they have achieved and what they plan to accomplish while at JWU,” says Providence Campus President Marie Bernardo-Sousa, LP.D. ’92 (pictured above). “It is my hope that each year we will see more returning students on Gaebe Commons to welcome our first-year students”.  

Ignite the Night is one of many events offered during Welcome Week. It’s a chance for students of all years to build friendships and connections with their peers, catch up with old friends, make memories with some delicious s’mores, and finally ignite the bright light for the upcoming school year.  

Students roasting marsh mellows over a fire

Students eating smores

Students were also encouraged to make friendship bracelets prior to Ignite the Night, an idea inspired by the “Taylor Swift Friendship Bracelet Swap” trend. Friendship bracelets are a symbol of one’s time, honor, and energy put into one’s friendship, and swapping the bracelets was a great way for students to build connections with their peers. “Ignite the Night was a fun experience to start off the year,” says Tenley Stonis ’25. “I was able to meet up with some people I had met during Orientation, and it gave us a chance to get to know each other a little better, see if we had any classes together, or plan to hang out together.”  

For many students, Ignite the Night was also the first time they could reconnect with friends. “I got to catch up with friends I haven't seen all summer!” says Kimberly Cabrera ’24. So many friendships are built at JWU, and some even start at Ignite the Night.  

While this year may be the start of your adventure or the beginning of the end of your time with JWU, it is never too late to ignite your personal light for the upcoming school year. 

A girl hanging a lantern on a rope at night

Students posing in front of balloons and lights at Ignite the Night