Students had as many feelings to unpack as boxes during Move-In Weekend.
The arrivals to Gorham on Friday, August 26, were mostly first first-year students. Upperclass students filled the remaining dorms on Saturday and Sunday. Of approximately 1,300 students living in campus housing, about 600 of them are new to the University of Southern Maine.
The diversity of the student body is on the rise. The number of first-year students who identify as multicultural rose by nine percent over the previous year. Out-of-state and international students account for 30 percent of the freshman class.
This will be the last year that housing is limited to just Gorham. Construction on the new Portland Common Residence Hall continued over the summer. It is on pace to open at this time next year with space for nearly 600 students.
Along with their excitement for the future, many students are still eager to make up for the time that they lost to the COVID-19 pandemic. The switch to remote classes in 2020 meant students could only interact with each other via computer screens. Many of the usual campus activities, such as in-person Commencement, didn’t resume until recently.
The sense of being part of a transitional moment was a common refrain among students as they rolled into campus to start the new year. A few of them, along with their parents, stopped unloading their cars just long enough to share their thoughts.
- SARAH BENES (first-year, Biology): Looking forward to “just getting out on campus, meeting different people, doing different things, because it’s a split campus, so there will be a lot more to do. I’m excited for all my classes, especially my genetics class for Biology. I’m excited for literally everything, especially student engagement.”
- MAGGIE BUDDE (Sarah Benes’ mother): “I’m super excited for her because she can spread her wings and is looking forward to being on the East Coast, being from the Chicago-Milwaukee area. This is a big difference, but she loves it. And she feels like this is her home, so I’m excited for her to make it her new home. . . I’m just looking forward to visiting and I probably will cry our 18-hour drive home.”
- KOLBY BOULGIER (fourth-year, Psychology): “I just hope it all goes smoothly and that I can make new friends before I leave, and then come back here again in the fall (for graduate classes). I just want it to all go great.”
- CHRISTOPHER BROWN (third-year, Philosophy): Looking forward to “trying to make a little bit more friends than last semester (at Southern Maine Community College). It was a little boring with COVID restrictions. Hoping it’s a little bit more exciting. And a lot more adventures with my Philosophy ambitions.”
- DeANTHONY EVANS (first-year, Sport Management): Looking forward to “developing as a student and developing as a person, becoming my own.”
- CECIL EVANS (DeAnthony’s father): “Pretty excited, it’s a big step for him. We’re looking forward to what the future will bring.”
- JOSIE LIBBY (fourth year, Education/English): “I’m really excited to be living around my friends again and to be back on campus because I like the environment. And I’m excited to get into a classroom and get teaching.”
- LITA McCORMICK (fourth-year, Psychology): “This is actually my first time on the Gorham Campus. I’ve always been in Portland, so I’m really excited to expand. Obviously, things have been crazy the past few years, so more normalcy.”
- FYNN MOXCEY (second-year, Music Education): “Fitting everything into a VW Beetle is a little hard, especially when it’s just me. For my summer job, I actually also live away from home, so I’ve gotten kind of used to living out of bags for a little while, so I’m happy to actually settle down.”
- AEDAN RASBURY (first-year, undeclared): “Even though I’m not doing a Music major, I’m really excited for the band program because I got signed up for that, and I’m going to get to play (baritone saxophone) with people. And also, some of the sports programs because it’s a whole lot easier to exercise with people when you have friends to go and do that with. Just a chance to go meet people, really.”
- NICHOLAS RHODES (second-year, Music Composition): Looking forward to “having an opportunity to compose music for people to play, and to play music with other people.”
- BROOK RHODES (Nicholas’ mother): “I feel good because he’s been under my feet all summer and it’s time for him to go back to school. I want my living room back because it’s full of guitars and amps and music.”
- RYAN STESKY (second-year, Studio Arts): “I’m trying out a bunch of different art forms that I’ve never tried before. That’ll be interesting because I’ve mostly done Digital Art. I wanted the broader degree so I went for Studio Arts. That’s really it, just more experience overall.”
- SANJAY TUCKER (second-year, Political Science): “This year, I’m definitely hoping to get more involved in local politics around here. I’m already involved in a couple little community things, but I want to further my impact here a little bit more.”