Friday, August 12, 2016

A Big Welcome: More than 180 UNO Volunteers Lend a Hand During New Student Move-In Day

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They came with mini-fridges, microwaves and suitcases—and also, umbrellas, rain boots and ponchos.

Relentless rainfall definitely dampened Move-In Day at the University of New Orleans. But it didn’t stop scores of new and transfer students from taking up residence in Pontchartrain Halls, the 740-person state-of-the-art student housing facility on Milneburg Road.

More than 180 faculty, staff, alumni and student volunteers helped students over the course of the day. Many greeted the students curb-side, helping them lift heavy loads and ease the otherwise unwieldy task of moving from a rainy parking lot into a four-story residence hall bustling with hundreds of other people, boxes, directions and questions.

Jeannie Darby of Mandeville said she couldn’t believe how quickly she and son, Joshua Traina, 18, were able to unload his belongings. They drove up in front of the residence hall and before they knew what was happening, Mike Hoffshire, assistant director of First-Year Success, was loading her son’s boxes onto a rolling cart while UNO librarian Janet Crane protected Darby and Traina with an umbrella.

“I’m so impressed!” she exclaimed before heading off to find a parking place.

Christy Heaton, director of Orientation and First Year Programs at UNO, who has helped organize Move-In Day for nine years, said this year’s effort was particularly fun. UNO's Office of Student Housing and the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership were also sponsors of the day's events, with the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership hosting a fun, end-of-day cookout. 

“Even though it was a rainy day, everyone was in great spirits,” Heaton said. “Literally no one really had to carry much.”

Zachary Toole, 19, drove six hours from The Woodlands, Texas, with his parents, with enough belongings to fill two vehicles—a Jeep Cherokee and a Jeep Wrangler. The transfer film student said he was supplying the big-ticket items his roommates didn’t have—the television, microwave and refrigerator.

Toole seemed relaxed as he waited in line to fill out paperwork before getting his room assignment. His mother, Tammy Toole, meanwhile, admitted it wasn’t the easiest thing in the world to drop her son off six hours from home.

“I’m just nervous,” she said with a chuckle.

Jasperana Tobias, 18, a freshman from Edna Karr High School in New Orleans, stood in line to get her housing contract. Beside her, her mother, grandmother and sister looked on.

“I wanted to experience on-campus living,” said Tobias, an aspiring psychology major and the first in her family to go to college. She said she came armed with a supply of Command Strips to help fasten posters to her new, empty walls.

Heaton said one thing that is nice about Move-In Day is that it’s the culmination of a lot of work. All summer long, UNO’s new students have been visiting the campus and meeting staff and faculty through a variety of orientation sessions.

“I am hopeful that they will continue to connect with someone or something academic or socially and they’ll want to pay it forward next year.”

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