The Catholic University of America

Aug. 23, 2013

Class of 2017 Finds Move-In Day a Smooth Experience

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Plenty of help from Orientation workers made Move-In Day a smooth experience for incoming students and their families.

Four cars loaded to the ceiling with white plastic bags and boxes bulging with clothes, athletic gear, and other necessities pull up, one after another, to Camalier Hall in Catholic University’s Centennial Village.

Even before the riders can all get out to begin unloading, six, then eight, then 10 helpers with the word “Welcome” imprinted on their red T-shirts leap into action, pulling those bags and boxes into waiting carts and pushing or hand carrying everything straight through the front door and down the halls to various rooms.

It’s 9 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 22 — move-in day for some 950 incoming freshmen and transfer students of the Class of 2017.

From around the country, these students are arriving with clothes, computers, and favorite things from home, with siblings and parents revolving around them in tight little groups, making sure their sons and daughters get settled in and ready to start a new phase of life.

One of the rooms in Camalier Hall belongs to incoming freshman Peggy Stevick. This will be Stevick’s home for the next year — away from the one she’s known in her hometown of Laurel, Md. Stevick will share it with her high school friend, Grace Collins. Collins, who will study architecture, hasn’t arrived yet as she received a different move-in time, says Stevick.

“Yeah, I’m really excited,” she adds, taking a breath and surveying the room. “It’ll be different, but in a good way.” On the shelf by the sink, Buddy, her fish, has no worries as he floats in a little covered plastic container and calmly swishes his tail.

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Mattie McGrath, right,  and members of her family carry her things into her new room.  

Although the nursing major is the first one from her family to attend CUA, she has some connections to the University. “One of the priests at my parish went here,” she says. Another friend of the family is enrolled in a seminary close by.

The helpers put what they are carrying into the room. “Welcome to CUA,” one calls as she sprints right back out.

Another helper pops in. “Hi, I’m Mo, your resident minister,” Maureen “Mo” McGee says. McGee, a senior majoring in social work, lives one floor up from Stevick. “If there are any problems, look for me. I’ll be around checking on everybody.”

Sister Stephen Patrick, O.P., and Sister Teresa Christi, O.P., Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, are graduate students and also religious in residence at Camalier this year.

“Move-in day is great,” says Sister Teresa. “I thought it would be more hectic but it’s so smooth.” Sister Stephen, who is working toward a Ph.D. in biology, adds, “Our students are so generous, and they are just welcoming. The families are grateful that they are welcomed and moved in. The workers smile and have fun with it. It gets hot and they get tired, but they have such good attitudes.”

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  Student Orientation workers cheer each other on as they begin unloading a car.

The two sisters look forward to living on campus. “The biggest part of our job description is to be present to share the gift of our consecration to God,” says Sister Teresa, who is working toward a master’s degree in American history. “We’re not the resident advisers, we don’t go around enforcing rules. We pray with the students.”

Just up the hill, orientation worker and senior politics major John Dautzenberg from Long Island, N.Y., eases the slight confusion of a driver by telling him to head down the driveway into Centennial Village.

As the car pulls away, Dautzenberg says he’s been helping at Orientation and move-in day for three years, and wouldn’t miss his last time, even if it’s just directing people where to park and unload. “Good morning,” he calls to the next car. “It’s fun,” he adds after he helps that driver.

Dautzenberg explains the process of getting new students moved in. Cars are unloaded on the spot by orientation workers. First are the “unloaders,” he says, “and then movers, and then parkers. It’s very well coordinated this year. It’s the best it’s been in my three years.”

Down the hill at Ryan Hall, Mattie McGrath, whose hometown is Pawling, N.Y., is walking from the parking lot surrounded by her family — mom, dad, sister and two brothers — each one carrying something.

Her mother, Mary Lou McGrath, is impressed with the coordination of move-in day. “So far, it’s been extremely efficient,” she says, noting her own college move-in experience “certainly wasn’t like this. It’s really amazing.”

Mattie, a nursing major, is the first of her family to come to CUA. She says it was the nursing program that attracted her to the University. “And I love the campus,” she says. “I’m excited to start. Everyone has been great.”

Her dad, Ryan McGrath, adds that the family visited the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception for a World Rosary Day when Mattie was 9 years old.

“I remember thinking this was a really nice campus, a really nice school, never thinking that she’d be here,” says Mary Lou McGrath.

But looking around his daughter’s new home as she is set to begin the next chapter of her life, Ryan McGrath smiles and says, “We kept getting steered here.”



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