Peggy Brown was taking a break by a pile of her daughter’s belongings outside of Barrett Hall when two William & Mary students in green shirts approached, their arms full of boxes and clothing.
“Girls, thank you so much. This is wonderful,” said Brown. “I just can’t believe that all these people are sweating for us.”
Brown and her husband Kevin were among the hundreds of the parents, friends, family members and volunteers who helped William & Mary’s newest students move bedspreads, mirrors, rain boots and min-fridges into the College’s residence halls this morning as part of freshman move-in day.
Cars were lined up on the streets around and through campus before 8 a.m., when the residence halls officially opened for the move. By 8:30 a.m., the sidewalks and lawn areas at residence halls like Barrett, DuPont and Botetourt were filled with piles of belongings.
As she waited outside Barrett Hall, Brown said that her daughter, Erin, fell in love with William & Mary while looking into potential colleges.
“It was her number one choice,” Brown said, adding that Erin opted to apply for early-decision. “She had a lot of great schools that she wanted to apply to, and we kept saying if you got into every one of your schools, where would you want to go. She kept saying, hands-down William & Mary.”
Freshman Carly Blatt said that William & Mary also topped her list.
“When I came and visited it, I fell in love with it and I knew that that’s where I’d be going,” she said.
As Blatt and the other new students moved into their residence halls this morning, they were assisted by student volunteers wearing shirts that said “sweating for you” on the back.
Tara Miller, a senior at William & Mary, volunteered with the Wesley Foundation to hand out lemonade and cookies in front of DuPont Hall.
“It’s really important to get to know the campus so we can have a really good community together,” she said. “Even if we don’t see them at the Wesley Foundation, we’re going to see them in classes, we’re going to see them around campus.”
Inside the residence halls, the new students received a boisterous welcome from orientation aides (OA). Outside of the Botetourt Complex, one group of OAs pointed out particularly large items that people were carrying, loudly cheering on dads carrying mini-fridges and freshmen carrying mattresses.
Sophomore E’mon White, a program and family orientation aide, greeted family members and new students in DuPont Hall.
“I know that my orientation aids were awesome and memorable, so I wanted to be memorable to the freshmen, and now I get to be memorable to the parents, too,” he said. “I’m very excited about it.”
When the new students finally reached their dorms rooms, some met old friends there while others met for the first time. For instance, roommates Mike Dieitz of Manassas, Va., and Jay Kim of South Korea and Boston, met for the first time Friday morning. Both said they are looking forward to getting to know each other and others on campus in the weeks to come.
This year W&M, next year St Andrews
One group of the students who moved in this morning will be meeting an entirely new campus community next year – in Scotland. Approximately 30 of the College’s new students are enrolled in the new William & Mary and University of St Andrews joint degree program, which will allow students to spend two years at each institution and earn a single degree from both schools.
Andrew Hashim, Kassia Halcli and Nikki Rosas are part of the program’s inaugural class.
“I thought it was very inspiring and exciting to be one of the first in a line of very actively enriched kids to start this kind of program,” said Hashim, who moved into Spotswood Hall today. “I also thought it was a great opportunity, especially to receive a dual degree, a degree that when you graduate only a few kids – apart from yourself – will have. I believe it makes you stand out, and I was very excited about that.”
Halcli, who moved into DuPont today, echoed Hashim’s sentiments.
“I just thought it was a really cool program,” she said. “It was just very unique. I was attracted to it because it was a small group of people as opposed to other programs that are cool but are really big. It just seemed more personal and I would get more one-on-one experience.”
Rosas, too, opted to participate in the program because it “seemed like a really unique and exciting experience.”
“I hope to get a more well-rounded education out of the joint degree program than I would at just one of the two schools due to their different educational approaches and philosophies,” she said. “I also hope I have a lot of fun studying abroad and learning about Scottish culture.”
Rosas moved into Monroe Hall today. Although she and the other St Andrews program participants are excited about what they will do next year in Scotland, for now they are looking forward to their time at William & Mary.
“I'm looking forward to meeting a lot of great people, taking challenging but interesting classes, and getting involved in new organizations and activities,” said Rosas.
Until next time
As the move-in activities came to a close, the College’s new students and their parents and families faced what is, for some, one of the hardest parts of the day: saying goodbye.
Although his daughter Cassie, is his first child to leave for college, Ron Holmes said he is not worried about her.
“It’s really just the right place for her,” he said.
Holmes said that seeing her leave for college was “bittersweet.”
“It’s a good thing to see her take the next step in her life,” he said. “At the same time, I like her and enjoy being around her and will miss her.”
Although Brown now has an empty nest with her youngest in college, she said it feels great.
“I want to write on my Facebook page, ‘and then there were none,’” she said.
But Brown and her husband will be reunited with their daughter again soon enough when the pair returns to campus for family weekend at the end of September. That is, unless they show up in Williamsburg with a moving van before then.
“We can’t believe how picturesque and serene and authentic everything is, and we just love this area,” she said. “My husband’s already wanting to look at real estate.”
No matter when Brown sees her daughter next, she hopes that Erin will get involved and not take her schoolwork too seriously.
“I want her to be able to have fun and just meet new friends and try new things and accomplish the impossible,” Brown said. “She can do anything.”