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Warm welcome: new Tribe students arrive on campus

  • Welcome Class of 2020:
    Welcome Class of 2020:  Orientation aides cheer on students as they arrive to their new residence halls.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
  • Welcome Class of 2020:
    Welcome Class of 2020:  Orientation aides cheer on an incoming freshman as she totes belongings to her new home.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
  • Welcome Class of 2020:
    Welcome Class of 2020:  New students and their families arrived on campus Friday with arms full of mini-fridges, ironing boards, fans, and boxes.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
  • Welcome Class of 2020:
    Welcome Class of 2020:  President Reveley made the rounds to welcome new students and greet student volunteers during the move-in festivities.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
  • Welcome Class of 2020:
    Welcome Class of 2020:  The sidewalks outside residence halls were crowded with students' belongings in the early morning hours.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
  • Welcome Class of 2020:
    Welcome Class of 2020:  Student volunteers donning blue shirts were part of the move-in crew, helping new students find their ways and tote heavy boxes to their new homes.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
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College students might not be known as early risers, but as the soft morning light poured into campus Friday, William & Mary was more than ready to rumble. It wasn’t quite 7:15, but a long line of cars packed with boxes and bins had already formed along the path leading down toward Green & Gold Village, where a spirited brigade of upperclassmen whooped and cheered in unison. Clad in neon yellow and baby blue T-shirts, the lively welcome crew was there to make sure move-in day for the incoming students went as smoothly — and was as much fun — as possible. 

“I had such a great time at my freshman orientation, so I decided to get involved this year to make sure new students feel as welcome as I did on my first day,” said Sarah DeVellis ’19, an orientation aide and government major. “And coming up with the different songs and cheers for each residence hall is also a lot of fun.”

{{youtube:medium:left|ZJLAAz8t20o, Class of 2020: Freshmen Move-in Day}}

According to Lauren Garrett, director of first year experience, W&M welcomed approximately 1,520 freshmen into eight residence halls.  Additionally, 187 transfers, 29 exchange students and 21 St Andrews Joint Degree Programme host students checked in for orientation. Together, they’ll be introduced to their new surroundings by a team of 225 orientation student leaders, which includes Eboni Brown ’17, an orientation area director for Green & Gold Village. 

“Our role here today is to make sure new students have everything they need to get through orientation and get them started here, including IDs, room keys, mailbox keys and other basic information,” said Brown, who is serving her third year as an orientation leader. “Then once the logistics are done, we just want to make sure everyone is as excited and hyped to be here as we are.”

Brown and her team were accompanied at freshmen residence halls by 184 student volunteers who were part of the “Sweating for You” move-in crew [and, under mid-80s heat, sweat they did]. As student volunteers clambered about, hoisting boxes, mini-fridges and TVs from pickup trucks and toting them up flights of stairs, others offered heartfelt support by sharing their own first-year experiences with nervous students and their parents.

One of those parents is Yin Wong, who drove down from Ashburn, Virginia, to help her daughter, Amanda, move into Spotswood Hall. “She’s my second child to go to college, but it’s still emotional,” she said. “I try not to cry, but I know eventually the tears will come.”

She’s comforted, though, by Amanda’s excitement at coming to W&M. “I really liked the environment here —it feels very close-knit and welcoming,” Amanda said. “And the students I’ve met so far have been really nice. I didn’t expect all the singing on move-in day, but it’s been nice to see everyone’s excitement.”

At Monroe Hall, Francesca Babetski, a Monroe Scholar from Sterling, Virginia, was prepared for the orientation cheers, thanks to some light summer reading. “I follow the Admissions blogs, so I kind of knew what to expect today,” she said. “Overall, I’m a little nervous about my first day here, but I’m more excited than anything.” 

Back at Green & Gold Village, Hank Blackburn was having similar sentiments as he prepared to say his goodbye-for-nows to his mother, who was headed home to Dallas, Texas, after move-in day. 

“William & Mary is far away, but in a good way,” he said. “This will be a cool way to see who I am on my own. I do have a Texas flag to hang on my wall though. I had to bring one little piece of home with me.” 

As Blackburn -- and all new students -- will learn throughout the course of orientation, home, at least for the next four years, will be right here on campus. 

“I had two stellar orientation aides my freshman year who literally erased any thoughts of homesickness I had within 30 seconds of me being here,” said Brown. “I hope the new students come in and feel like this is their home right away. There will be lots of opportunities for them to learn about themselves and grow, and if they just dive headfirst into all of it, I think they’ll have a very successful four years at William & Mary.”