Suitcases, boxes and hugs were aplenty in and around the dorm rooms of Stanislaus State on Wednesday, as students said their final goodbyes to family members and moved into their new homes for the school year.
Move-In Day at the university went off without a hitch, thanks to multiple unloading zones for students’ belongings and plenty of student helpers assisting freshmen with the task of carrying their items to their rooms. Stanislaus State sorority and fraternity members made their way from car to dorm and back again, making sure that their new, younger counterparts – all 400 of them – were able to make the transition from home life to dorm life easily.
A record 720 students moved into the dorms this year, with some returning to the university after a well-earned summer break, and many stepping onto campus for the first time.
“It’s cool getting to see new students from different area codes,” said Leslie Rodriguez, who was on campus with her sorority to help out on Move-In Day. “There are so many cultures and so much diversity.”
For incoming freshman Jaelen Ragsdale, arriving at college has been at the forefront of his mind since middle school.
“I’ve been thinking about this day since I was playing basketball in 8th grade,” said Ragsdale. “College has always been the big move.”
Ragsdale, originally from Stockton, is a new recruit for the university’s basketball team. Although his new school is just down the highway from home, his mother Stephanie couldn’t help but feel mixed emotions about her son’s departure.
“I’m happy but sad at the same time,” she said. “He’s going to do well, and he’ll meet new people.”
Another student leaving home for the first time was freshman Bethany Mendes. Like Ragsdale, the Atwater native won’t be too far from home, but the school’s proximity to her family wasn’t why Mendes chose Stanislaus State as the university where she would further her education.
Mendes has a brother with special needs, which sparked her interest in Special Education. Her other school of choice, Fresno Pacific, would not have given her the hands-on experience with Special Education students that Stanislaus State’s teaching program provides.
“I actually get to touch Special Education here in undergrad, and at FPU I would have had to wait four years,” said Mendes.
“The school having the academics and notoriety for their teaching program was the icing on the cake,” added her mother, Denise Mendes.
For many students, college is the first time that they are able to live on their own and experience independence. This aspect of post-high school life excited freshman Alejandra Camacho.
“It’s bittersweet, but it’s something I’ve been waiting for a long time,” said Camacho. “I’m most excited about being on my own and being independent. This is my chance to flourish.”
Move-In Day was just the first item on a weeklong agenda for the school’s Welcome Week, which is a new event at Stanislaus State that consists of five activity-filled days aimed at helping freshman become acclimated to their new surroundings. In years past, the university held welcome events for two days – a system which was proving to be unsuccessful at helping students adjust.
“What we’ve discovered is students get here, start school and we expect them to know what their resources are and they don’t,” said Assistant Director of Housing and Residential Life Rebekah Gregory. “We’re taking the next five days to not only foster total community on their floors and them getting to know each other, but also introduce them to everything that the campus has to offer.”
The five-day Welcome Week includes social events, like an all-resident gathering featuring food and games, and workshops touching on different aspects of student life, such as financial matters, campus recreation, psychological services and money management.
“We felt like it was worth it to invest in something like Welcome Week because it will save some students who normally just get lost in the shuffle,” said Gregory.
One fear of many students when they arrive is the thought that there may not be much to do in Turlock, said Gregory. In order to help new students see all that Turlock has to offer, student leaders were purposefully taken out into the community prior to the freshmen’s arrival. They rode the bus downtown, dined in downtown restaurants and even visited nearby swimming spots such as Knight’s Ferry.
“We know that if we get them used to going out into the community, that’s what they’re going to tell their residents to do,” said Gregory.
A Turlock photo contest is also included in Welcome Week as another way to introduce newcomers to the community. With countless activities planned for the next five days, it’s doubtful that the start of classes on Aug. 24 is on students’ minds.
“We don’t want them to stop long enough to get homesick,” said Gregory.