Under fickle skies – one minute sun, the next minute a downpour – members of the University of Mary Washington’s Class of 2025 streamed onto campus yesterday.
Move-In Day 2021 brought first-year students to Fredericksburg from near and far, all with high hopes for a full freshman experience. After more than a year of online learning, due to COVID-19, the undergrads breathed life back into campus. Masks, now required indoors with the Delta variant’s surge, couldn’t hide the nervous excitement of moving into new rooms, meeting suitemates … and putting together those tricky beds.
Robbie Willcox of Annandale, Virginia, used a bright orange mallet to wrestle her bed into shape, while her father scrolled through his phone for assembly directions. Willcox, whose brother, Michael, is a sophomore assigned to Eagle Landing, was sold on the school after attending UMW Theatre performances. “They were pretty impressive,” she said. “Coupled with a great community and really nice campus, Mary Washington seemed like the obvious choice.”
Like Willcox, many members of UMW’s incoming class hail from Virginia. But 14 percent come from other locales, making the trek from Maryland, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, New York and New Jersey, and also from farther afield – Washington and Wisconsin, Missouri and Montana, Colorado and California. Students also flew in from foreign countries as far away as South Africa, India and Ethiopia, but also from Ireland, Honduras and United Kingdom, even the South Pacific country of Fiji and Nepal in South Asia. Nearly 30 percent of the incoming class self-identifies as racially or ethnically diverse.
With blankets and beanbags, mirrors and mini-fridges, water bottles and whiteboards, first-year – and first-time transfer – students moved into a bevy of residence halls, including Ball, Jefferson, Madison, Mason, Randolph, Westmoreland, and newly renovated Willard and Virginia, plus Eagle Landing on U.S. 1 and UMW Apartments on William Street. Eighty-five percent of UMW’s incoming class will live on campus.
UMW President Troy Paino and wife Kelly, accompanied by Chief of Staff Jeff McClurken, made the rounds yesterday, popping in to greet students and offering a helping hand. Their first stop: Randolph Hall, where they welcomed new roommates Maddison Pfautz of Richmond and Brooke Fillmann of Manassas, who first met at Orientation.
Golf carts filled with First-Year Seminar peer mentors, dressed in bright yellow T-shirts and assigned to show first-years the ropes, buzzed here and there with bubbly greetings. The day also included a student resource and wellness fair, Giant Pharmacy vaccine clinic, meals in the University Center, Paino’s welcome address on Ball Circle and an evening movie on Jefferson Square.
“This is an excellent class that is coming to us,” said Paino, who pointed to impressive GPAs and SAT scores. “I’m very excited to have them as part of the Mary Washington community.”