The fall semester is in full swing and members of the Rensselaer Class of 2019 are settling in. More than 1,380 students joined the Rensselaer community from 45 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and from countries all around the world. This year, 172 of the students are citizens of countries other than the United States.

The new students were officially welcomed to campus by President Jackson at the annual “handshake at the Approach,” where the president shakes hands with the students before they head down the Approach and make their way into downtown Troy for a night of activities and entertainment. Remarks were made by President Jackson, City of Troy Mayor Lou Rosamilia, Frank Ross, vice president of student life, the President of the Union and Grand Marshal, and representatives from the Resident Student Association.

According to Karen Long, director of undergraduate admissions, 76 students were valedictorians or salutatorians of their high school graduating class, while 73 percent ranked in the top 10 percent of their class. In the new class, 154 students have had 800 SAT critical reading, math, or writing scores and three students scored a 1600 on the critical reading and math portions of the exam. As a class, the SAT average was 1377 based on the 1600 scale.

In addition, the high achieving group includes students who have been nominated for the Rensselaer Medal, a scholarship awarded to the top math and science students at high schools across the country. This year, 173 Medal winners have joined Rensselaer. The Medal was first presented in 1916 with two purposes: to recognize the superlative academic achievement of young men and women, and to motivate students toward careers in science, engineering, and technology.

Thirty-six students were captains of athletics teams in high school, and 697 students participated in sporting activities overall.

The Class of 2019 is filled with students who have already made a mark on the world. One student volunteers for two clean water projects in her community, while another has created a website to fight against bullying. One student’s family holds the Guinness World Record for having the most Christmas lights on display on a residential property (more than 600,000 lights). But more importantly, through this holiday light exhibit, he and his family have raised more than $150,000 for local charities.

The class also includes a student who hiked to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro, another who has biked 3,200 miles across the country, one who played soccer in Sweden in the second largest youth soccer tournament in the world, and one student who drives her car in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series.

It’s no surprise that the class includes a number of inventors and creators. One member of the class created an app for his high school for students to pre-order lunches in order to shorten the lunch lines during the brief time allotted for the lunch periods. Another created an app and a company called Gradesmart. The app grades papers,analyzes multiple choice exams, and exports grades directly to grade books. One student is co-founder and developer of the Vitalight Company. Vitalight provides proper lighting for rural hospitals, especially for surgical procedures during power outages. And, one student received a patent for his environmentally friendly toilet detergent.

In addition, 95 students are the sons or daughters, grandsons or granddaughters of Rensselaer graduates. “This is a wonderful message about our education and the possibilities it brings, and the longstanding connection we make once you join the Rensselaer family,” said Long in her remarks during the Student Orientation program held this summer for incoming students prior to the start of classes.