Hundreds of new Middle Tennessee State University students and their families descended on campus Friday to move into their dorms, but they didn’t do so by themselves.
Students, faculty and staff turned out on a steamy summer day to help the newest additions to the Blue Raider community get settled into their new homes during the annual We Haul event.
Most students started fall classes Monday. Approximately 3,000 students live in MTSU’s traditional residence halls, apartment complexes and houses on Greek Row.
The Office of Leadership and Service coordinated teams of volunteers interested in helping with new student move-in, including MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee.
Freshman Summer Ward, an elementary education major from Johnson City, Tenn., was among a steady stream of students, parents and loved ones going in and out of Corlew Hall, waiting their turn at the elevators to take their belongings to their rooms.
Moving in was a somewhat “scary” experience for Ward, who along with parents Danny and Donna Ward had just finished a four-hour drive from East Tennessee to their destination along MTSU Boulevard.
“It’s exciting and scary,” she said. “It’s all so new.”
“I’m proud as a peacock,” a smiling Danny Ward said. “She’s coming to college all this way. … We like it (here.) We went to (tour) Appalachian State and University of Tennessee before coming here, and hands down, this is the prettiest campus and the friendliest people that we came across. That made it easier to send her down here.”
While her oldest daughter, Haley, and husband, Rodney, were upstairs getting settled into her daughter’s room at Corlew Hall, Judi Gray of Memphis waited outside and shared her optimism about her daughter’s decision to attend MTSU, where she is majoring in physical training and sports medicine.
The family has an MTSU connection through Gray’s niece and MTSU alumna, Jasmine “Jaz” Gray, a 2010 College of Mass Communication honors graduate.
“This is our first experience of dropping a freshman off at school,” Judi Gray said, adding that the assistance from the We Haul volunteers was deeply appreciated.
“Two gentlemen came over to help us. Everybody’s been very nice and very supportive,” she said. “Even when we came for our college tour, we were impressed with how nice everybody was. Their willingness to help has been wonderful.”
We Haul is the first of numerous MTSU’s Week of Welcome activities that run through Thursday, Sept. 5.
Freshman Hannah Forsythe from Crossville, Tenn., stood on the sidewalk holding her mattress as a We Haul volunteer grabbed some of her belongings and whisked them into the dorm.
“They’ve been a big help with all of the heavy stuff that I could not carry,” said Forsythe, a forensic science major who arrived to campus with parents Jerry and Jill Brown.
“It feels like home here. I like it a lot.”
Representing the dance group Middle Tennessee Performing Arts Company, or MPAC, were student volunteers Demetre Durham, a senior mass communication major from Nashville, Morgan Johnson, a junior education major from Memphis, and Joi Williams, a senior exercise science major from Memphis.
It was Johnson’s first time volunteering for We Haul, an experience she said was rewarding and beneficial in myriad ways.
“It’s a good networking opportunity to meet people who aren’t from this particular area,” she said.
Jackie Victory, director of the Office of Leadership and Service, said some new additions to the process included the We Haul traffic crew as well as crew leaders to make the process more organized.
“Today has been a great opening weekend,” she said. “We had some great students to come out to help students and welcome new students to campus. Hopefully they’ll come back out (Saturday) and give us another great day.”