A new life: UMass welcomes students to campus

By MADDIE FABIAN

Staff Writer

Published: 09-06-2023 7:05 PM

AMHERST — Moving triplets into three separate dorms all in one day is no easy task, but the Lawn family did just that on Thursday, when first-year students were welcomed to the University of Massachusetts on a sunny and breezy move-in day.

“We’re excited, a little nervous, but we’re happy that we’re all together. It makes it easier,” said Maeve Lawn, one of the triplets along with Owen and Liam.

As the Lawns, who are from Watertown, emptied the contents of Liam’s bin into his new room in Melville Hall, their mother, Shannon Lawn, said that “it was chaos last month getting it done — three extension cords, three comforters, all the silly things that you take for granted in your house.”

Appropriately, as the triplets enter their new phase of life, the three will celebrate their 19th birthdays on campus next weekend.

“It’s its own version of emotional, but it’s exciting,” Shannon Lawn said. “I know they’ll be happy.”

This year, out of a record 50,320 applications, UMass welcomes approximately 5,275 freshmen to campus.

According to university officials, the new class of students is among the most diverse in university history, with African American, Latino/Hispanic, Asian, Hawaiian/Pacific Islander and Native American students accounting for 36% of the class, and another 16% made up of other underrepresented minority students.

As for academic merit, the incoming class has the highest average high school GPA at 4.08 and the highest average SAT score at 1377, though submission of test scores was optional in applications.

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Overall undergraduate enrollment for the fall semester totals around 22,750, and according to the U.S. News and World Report, 60% of students live on campus.

‘Minute movers’

This year, as usual, the process for getting all those students moved into the dorms involves hundreds of moving bins on wheels, student volunteer “minute movers,” and a professional moving company.

Junior Winnie Sekyaya decided to become a minute mover to “give back and help others,” and added that a perk of the job was getting to move in early.

“I just didn’t want to go through those long lines,” she said about regular move-in times.

Dawn Bond, director of residential life student services and a UMass alum herself, spends move-in week visiting residential areas making sure the process runs smoothly.

“We’ve been fixing problems since dark,” she said. “Day 1 startup is always the hardest, but we have beautiful weather and we are not backed up, really, anywhere.”

Outside of Hampshire Dining Hall, in the center of Southwest Residential Area, cars in a long line, overflowing with dorm necessities and decorations, were systematically unloaded into big cardboard bins and wheeled up a ramp to nearby residence halls.

Inside Kennedy Hall, students fist-bumped potential new friends and took first looks at their new dwellings, while the sounds of Taylor Swift’s “Cruel Summer” and the hammering of build-it-yourself furniture permeated through the walls.

“I’ve always wanted to live in Massachusetts,” said Taylor Shema, who traveled hundreds of miles from Ohio, as she sat cross-legged on her bed with framed flower artwork already hanging around the upper edge of the wall. “I’m excited to be on my own. … It’s scary, but exciting.”

Another student, Will Sheehan, hailing from Andover, came to UMass for the food, which is known for its top ranking by the Princeton Review.

“It was between here and Ohio State, and we went to Ohio State and he did not like the food,” said his mother, Karyn Sheehan, who graduated from UMass in 1993.

“It feels nostalgic to be back,” she said. “And the campus is so much prettier. There’s flowers everywhere, they have thoughtful little lounge areas for the kids to hang out. … It seems like just yesterday that I was here, so I cannot believe I’m moving in my child.”

‘You’re in college now’

Some students had already moved in on Tuesday and Wednesday as part of pre-approved early move-in groups.

Samuel Andica Rios and Rafael Lopes Andrade were among those students who moved in early, both part of a residential academic group called “Emerging Scholars,” where students with strong academic and leadership potential live in a cohort and have the opportunity to transition into the Honors College.

“Right now, it’s just about getting adjusted to everything that’s new, like sharing a shower … beating out the competition and waking up earlier or later than everybody else,” said Lopes Andrade, quickly adding that he was going to get some brunch at the dining hall.

“It’s not like home, you’re by yourself … You’re in college now,” said Andica Rios. “It’s almost like a sleepover.” His friends laughed in agreement at that.

Andica Rios said he’s already looking forward to joining the Muslim Student Organization and getting involved with other groups and activities on campus.

As usual, a series of “Welcome to the U” events will take place over the next week, including ice skating, a carnival, crafts, a tag sale, and the new student convocation, which will include a welcome from the new chancellor, Javier Reyes.

“It feels weird, but good. You move forward with your life. You get into a new phase, and you have to experience it,” said Gayane Badalyan, who will be studying chemistry.

“I’m excited for this new life, the college experience, and learning more,” she said.

Maddie Fabian can be reached at mfabian@gazettenet.com or on Twitter @MaddieFabian.]]>