Hundreds of first-year students called UMW home for the first time this week. Move-In Day, which took place yesterday on the Fredericksburg campus, marked the official start of the fall 2017 semester.
Beneath overcast skies, spirits were bright. Anticipation bubbled like the Palmieri Fountain. And nervous excitement was the mood of the day.
“Move-In Day is full of energy,” said Director of Undergraduate Admissions Melissa Yakabouski, whose office works each year to recruit an academically top-notch, well-rounded group of young men and women likely to engage in the Fredericksburg community as leaders, athletes, performers and more. “It’s exciting to watch the faces of our new students as they begin their adventure at Mary Washington.”
Campus Walk looked more like a highway, with parents unloading minivans, college police doling out directions from Segways and golf carts galore. New Eagles hauled in all sorts of supplies, pulling bins behind bikes, fridges on dollies and suitcases on wheels.
It’s a scene Assistant Dean for Residence Life and Housing Dave Fleming lovingly calls “controlled chaos,” and President Troy D. Paino and wife Kelly were there to witness it all.
“It’s always fun to see parents with a sense of pride and nervousness, and that tint of sadness that we all can relate to,” said Paino, who pointed to the aura of excitement and possibility that colors the day, and expressed gratitude to “the amazing volunteers” who keep everything moving.
Junior Sarah Giuseppe, a Mason Hall resident assistant, darted from room to room, spreading school spirit and helping families fit furniture into tight spots, plug appliances into the proper receptacles and coax stubborn loft beds into shape.
New Mason resident Kelly Cyliax crammed so much stuff into her family’s Volvo before leaving home in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, there wasn’t much room left for people. The cramped quarters on the four-hour drive weren’t top of mind to her mother, Sue. “I’m a little nervous, but I think Mary Washington is a great fit for Kelly,” she said. “It’s a great start.”
When classes begin next week, UMW expects to welcome more than 1,300 new undergraduates, including nearly a thousand freshmen and 400 transfer, adult degree and nursing students.
Of the freshmen, 12 percent hail from 25 states other than Virginia – mostly Maryland – and from several foreign countries, including Argentina, Australia and South Africa. They’re 35 percent male and 65 percent female, with 28 percent identifying as ethnically diverse.
Transfer and continuing education students claim a similar profile, with 40 percent male and 60 percent female, and 30 percent identifying as ethnically diverse.
Among first-year students is Casey Johnson, who moved into Randolph Hall, bringing “like five million things to hang on her wall,” said her mother, Jennifer. Casey’s sister, UMW sophomore Mackenzie Johnson, was on hand to help with the plan for the room – to use a white comforter as a base for accessories in muted colors.
Thomas Bustamante’s décor plans for his Virginia Hall room? “Blue,” said Bustamante, who hails from Midlothian, Virginia.
And blue – well, blue-ish – is just how his mother, Elsie, felt unpacking his stuff.
“It’s a mix of emotions,” she said, wiping away tears. “We’re proud of this kid; he’s doing everything we prepared him to do, but he’s also leaving home.”
*The numbers above are a snapshot of UMW’s incoming class and do not represent final figures for fall enrollment.