The Class of 2014 takes its place at W&M| August 20, 2010
Just a few hours after packed cars started lining the streets of William & Mary Friday morning, Mari Cooper began making her new dorm room feel like home. With a pink blanket placed lovingly on the bed and matching pink dots applied to the walls, Mari - already sporting a William & Mary shirt - and her family moved on to exploring the room's storage spaces.
"I'm really excited," said Cooper, who drove from Ruckersville, Va., Friday morning with her parents, aunt and uncle. "I keep waiting for the excitement to die down, but it's really not going away, so that's good."
Cooper was one of about 1,400 freshmen who moved onto William & Mary's campus Friday morning. Cars began lining the streets before 7:30 a.m., and soon the sidewalks and grassy areas were filled with lamps, mirrors, boxes and personal items as swarms of people worked to move the new students into their rooms. Later that afternoon, President Taylor Reveley joined Ginger Ambler, vice president for student affairs, and Clyde Haulamn, Williamsburg's mayor and an economics professor at the College, in welcoming the new students to campus.
"The next time this group-students, parents, brothers and sisters, friends -gathers as a whole will be for Commencement," said Reveley. "We look forward to being together again on that day to welcome you not as entering students, but as newly christened alumni and alumnae. Even more, starting right this red hot moment, we look forward to our time together as your William & Mary experience unfolds. The College of William & Mary is now yours -- intensely for the next few years and then for a lifetime."
Hundreds of faculty, staff, students and alumni pitched in to make move-in day a success. About 220 students from organizations across the campus volunteered to help carry items for the students and their families. Additionally, about 160 residence life student staff helped get students checked in, and approximately 185 orientation aids provided information and assistance to the freshmen.
Tyler Rutter, a senior and the head resident of Barrett Hall, said that he and the other students with residence life aimed to make the new students feel welcome right away.
"First thing we do is, once we get their name, we all yell it out and we all cheer and kind of make them feel at home and get the shock out of their mind that they're now a college student," he said.
Rutter said he wants the new students to know that, at William & Mary, "the possibilities are endless."
"The College is what you make it out to be. Pretty much whatever you put into your college experience here, you're going to get out of it," he said.
And while the freshmen will get much from their College experience, they will also bring much to the campus, including "a lot of energy and a lot of excitement and a lot of diversity," said Rutter.
"That's what we bring in every year. It's never failed. It's going to be a great group of people," he said.
Alex Cooper, who volunteered as part of the campus's Baptist Collegiate Ministries, was one of the students who donned a shirt that read "sweating for you" and helped move the freshmen into the dorms. Now a sophomore, Cooper remembers what the day was like for him last year.
"It was so stressful," he said. "I thought it would be fun to help with move in, help the new freshmen and kind of welcome them before they have to go through orientation. This is their first glimpse of campus after deciding to come here, and I thought it would be really cool - even though they don't remember us - to at least be part of that and welcome them and introduce them to the community."
Freshman Caroline Merryman, of King George County, Va., said that she was looking forward to meeting some of the people in her dorm. She had talked with some of them online, in a Facebook group for the future resident of Gooch, but had not met any of them face-to-face yet.
Merryman said she wasn't sure what she was looking for in a college when she began her search, but she soon realized that William & Mary was the place for her.
"It's kind of the best mix of everything. It's old world, but there are new things going on here all the time," she said. "It's just the perfect mix for me.
As her family gathered around her pile of belongings to begin moving more of it inside, Merryman said she would miss them but she was glad to have a chance to live on her own.
"They're not too far away, so I'll still get to see them," she said. "But (I'm looking forward to) just independence and getting to make my own choices, which is kind of scary but also very exciting."
Merryman's parents - Laura and Steve - are equally excited for their daughter.
"I hope it's the college experience she wanted," said Laura. "She wants a very personal education, and I think that's why she chose William & Mary, and so I hope she develops a good relationship with her professors and her classmates, and I hope she just really feels like she's learning things very deeply as opposed to self-teaching."
Blake Erickson's parents hope that he gets a broad, liberal arts education at the College, "so that he has a good foundation for whatever he decides to do," said his dad, Joe.
They will be hearing about their son's college experiences on the opposite side of the country. Hailing from Seattle, Washington, Blake came to William & Mary both for the opportunity to be on the men's gymnastics team and for the curriculum. The family flew into Williamsburg a few days early to get settled in.
"I still haven't gotten over the layover and everything, but I will soon," said Erickson.
And though they will be on separate coasts for a while, they know they will see each other again soon.
"We're going to miss, especially since he'll be so far away, but we'll be back for family weekend," said Kelly, Blake's mom.
Like so many parents on the William & Mary campus Friday morning, Sue McCann hopes her son Connor enjoys everything during his four years at the College.
"I know he's going to study. I know he's going to work hard. That's a given, that's just his nature," she said. "But I just hope he really experiences the full college scope of things, whether it's going to a concert or an art gallery or playing Frisbee on the Sunken Garden - whatever, just do everything. Experience it all."
And though it is difficult for her to say goodbye to her first child to leave for college, McCann knows that the college years are like no other.
"College is great. It's the best four years of your life," she said. "It's a time for learning and making mistakes, learning what you're about. I think he has a good feel for that already but this will reinforce some things that are already strong in him and probably open him up to other things, and that's good. It's all good stuff."