Students excited about programs, Cambridge location as they kick off the academic year
Wednesday, September 04, 2013
And, to a person, the students were confident they’d made the right choice.
First-year student Trevonne Lewis, a business administration student from Chicago, said he was excited to be on the Doble Campus and that its surroundings seem “a bit like downtown” of his home city.
John Henry Christensen of Rhode Island, who transferred in as a junior from Assumption College in Worcester, was drawn by Lesley’s early childhood education offerings.
“I want to work with children, though I don’t necessarily want to teach.” John Henry said he also likes Lesley’s commitment to community service. While at Assumption, he frequently took part in Habitat for Humanity, a national program of volunteers who build houses for low-income families (who also help construct the homes). He hopes to do something similar here.
His parents, John and Sheila, were impressed with how smoothly the move-in went as students and staff volunteers, clad in pink T-shirts, helped incoming students move their boxes, items of furniture and other possessions into their new home for the academic year.
Like Trevonne, the Christensens all agreed that Lesley’s location, embedded in the heart of Cambridge between Porter and Harvard squares, is a real drawing card for the university.
“You can walk to and from anyplace safely here,” said Sheila Christensen, a fact that would be a relief to any parent. And the area’s safety is matched by its convenience.
“At Assumption you needed a car to get anywhere” off campus, John Henry said.
Cambridge’s allure also helped make Lesley the first choice for Kaitlin Parthum, a first-year student from Marblehead.
“That’s easy, I love the city,” she said, explaining that she attended boarding school in rural Hardwick’s Eagle Hill School, and was looking for the excitement of an urban environment.
Lesley’s urban locale was also part of the university’s appeal for freshmen roommates Shannon Miller, of Dedham, and Jenny Merritt, who hails from Wisconsin (“between Milwaukee and Madison”). The two met at orientation, hit it off and decided to be roommates, so each of them already knew one friend on campus.
However, that didn’t eliminate all drama from move-in day.
“I had to pack in the dark today,” said Miller, explaining that a severe storm knocked out electricity in her town. But even the inclement weather had its benefits.
“It got my mind off my freak-out,” she said with a laugh.
Miller plans to study political science, while Merritt is taking Mandarin Chinese and counseling psychology. She said she was attracted to Lesley because of its internship program, and Miller liked the general character of the school.
“It seemed like such a genuine university,” she said. “Everybody was happy” at orientation. In addition, everyone she has met on campus has been extremely “chill,” which makes the transition much easier.
That sense of community is also a hit with Parthum, who said Lesley was her top choice (and the last acceptance notice she received) from the more than half-dozen colleges and universities she applied to. She is pursuing her dream of becoming a teacher, plans to play a little tennis and definitely wants to get involved in as many student activities as she can manage.
“I just like being a part of something,” she said.
Her roommate, Isabelle Olsson, said she was thrilled to find their dorm room in Doble Hall “much bigger than I expected,” yet she enjoys Lesley’s manageable size. “I love the community, and I like that it’s a small school,” she said.
Dean of Student Life Nathaniel Mays said that, even with Sunday’s frequent rain showers, move-in day went “smooth as silk.”
“That’s really testament to all the hard work the student volunteers did,” he said, amid the bustling McKenna Student Center, where vendors from banks, telecommunications companies and other businesses crucial to collegians staffed information tables.
“You saw the tarps we had down (to protect belongings from the wet ground). We almost didn’t need them, since boxes would never make it to the ground. Once they came off the truck, a student was there to carry it into the dorm.”
And students’ families appreciated the effort. As she headed to her seat for the Convocation ceremony, Kennebunk, Maine, resident Cathy Surran said, “This was the easiest move-in ever.” The grandmother of new student Laurie Sukalis has moved many children into college, but none of the others had the crack coterie of student volunteers that Lesley produced.
With 800 seats barely accommodating the cohort of students (led in by bagpiper Joe McGrath), their families and well-wishers, Lesley’s 45-minute-long Convocation was short on speechifying but long on encouragement.
President Joseph Moore urged shy students to “change it,” and prodded them to introduce themselves to (and get on a first-name basis with) him when they see him in the dining halls or anywhere on campus. He also urged them to avail themselves of all that Lesley and the cities of Cambridge and Boston have to offer.
“You can get anywhere from here, and you can get there safely,” he said, adding that “walking makes the new feel familiar” and eventually like home.
Dean Mays, after getting a huge laugh reminding students to share the baked goodies and other treats in their “care packages” from home, said to parents: “We’re going to keep our promise to you. We are going to keep them healthy … and safe.”
Other speakers included College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean Mary Coleman (“I know you know how to dance in the rain.”); College of Art and Design Dean Stan Trecker and design professor Dr. Geoffry Fried, whose gardening metaphor reminded students: “Cultivating worthwhile things is difficult, but not impossible.”
In his opening remarks, Provost Selase Williams told students, “Your undergraduate experience is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity … don’t let any momentary distraction take you off your course, your course of greatness.”
Toward the ceremony’s conclusion — which included a New Students’ Pledge — Williams also urged students to extend themselves to “reach for the stars.”
“Your collective bright lights will form a constellation … but you have to reach.”
Check this Facebook album for more pictures of the move-in!
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