For eagles, building a nest is a bonding activity. The same could be said for the 900-plus first-year students who on Wednesday made the University of Mary Washington their home.
Move-In Day 2019.
Residence halls opened their doors to the Class of 2023, who arrived with parents, siblings, pets and armloads of bedding and clothes, as well as furniture, mini-fridges, laptops and shower caddies. They immediately began making connections with fellow students, and with President Troy Paino and wife Kelly, who – along with UMW staff – were on hand to help with the hauling. The freshmen strategically placed personal mementos and Mary Washington gear around their rooms, to remind them of the people who gave them their wings and those who’ll help them take flight.
The incoming students have a lot in common, especially their brains. Their average GPA is 3.63 and average SAT score is 1179. Nearly a quarter are the first in their families to attend college, and 102 have enrolled in UMW’s Honors Program.
But there are differences, too. Two-thirds are female and over a quarter identify as ethnically diverse. While nine of 10 are Virginians, this freshman class represents 20 states plus Washington, D.C., and several foreign countries, including Colombia, Ghana, Ireland, Italy, Lebanon, Mexico, Peru and the United Kingdom. Mary Washington also welcomes 308 transfer students this year.
This week, we asked new students to share their thoughts on social media about becoming an Eagle. Here are some responses.
Which Mary Wash tradition are you most excited about?
- “Ice cream with President Paino!” – Katherine Lauderbaugh, Virginia Beach, Va.
- “Homecoming.” – Claire Bradley, Elverson, Penn.
The first-years said they’re eager to experience UMW traditions such as Club Carnival and the Multicultural Fair, as well as spontaneous activities like jumping in the fountain and bench sitting. The most popular answer was Devil-Goat Day, which pits students graduating in odd years (Devils) against even years (Goats) in a friendly competition to win prizes and bragging rights.
What made you choose UMW?
- “The history and traditions on campus are amazing.” – Wilhemina Solley, Baku, Azerbaijan
- “I’m a triple legacy! My parents graduated in ’94, and my grandma in ’60!” – Evan Salp, Richmond, Va.
- “As soon as I walked on campus I knew it was the perfect place for me to be authentically me.” – Ash Ely, Vienna, Va.
The beautiful campus, welcoming community, small classes and opportunity to work closely with professors appealed to many students. Some liked being far from home, while others chose Mary Washington because of its close proximity. Top-notch programs such as historic preservation – UMW is one of only four institutions offering a bachelor’s degree in the field – were a major draw.
Which first-year seminar are you taking?
- “Race and Revolution.” – Addyson Reeher, Williamsburg, Va.
- “So You Think You Want to be a Teacher?” – Katya Stafira, Front Royal, Va.
- “Forbidden Texts.” – Fiona Jameson, Stafford, Va.
The Class of 2023 is excited for FSEMs, small, interactive classes taught by master teachers – especially those that focus on inequality in America and the legacy of civil rights icon and late UMW professor James Farmer. Others preferred topics like French cinema, horror in theatre and fashion theory.
Where in Fredericksburg are you planning to explore?
- “Benny Vitali’s.” – Mikayla Basham, Springfield, Va.
- “All the little coffee shops!” – Karlie Jahn, Virginia Beach, Va.
- “Nature for some hiking!” – Eliza Madison, Norfolk, Va.
First-years plan to frequent local pizzerias, donut shops, and of course, Carl’s – not to mention vintage stores and cozy coffeehouses in downtown Fredericksburg. Many want to visit outdoor spots like the Rappahannock River and Alum Springs Park.
What are you most excited about for college?
- “Being fully independent and on my own for the first time.” – Samia Haijaoui, Springfield, Va.
- “It sounds super nerdy, but my classes!” – Cosette Veeder-Shave, Hyde Park, N.Y.
- “Amazing people and interesting FSEMs!” – Garielle Johnson, Woodbridge, Va.
Making friends is a top priority for most incoming Eagles, with independence a close second. They said they look forward to joining the Mary Washington community and bonding with fellow students.