The Catholic University of America

Aug. 21, 2014

New Students Warmly Welcomed During Freshman Move-In

  Student volunteers and staff members assist with move-in Aug. 21.

The Catholic University of America campus burst to life the morning of Aug. 21 as hundreds of freshmen from around the country moved into their residence halls for the first time. As minivans and SUVs loaded with personal belongings pulled onto campus, hundreds of Orientation advisers, residence advisers (RAs), and staff members were on hand to fill one room after another with boxes of clothing, textbooks, bedding, and toiletries.

Among the many students moving onto campus was Conor Flaherty, who made the drive to CUA with his parents and younger brother, leaving his hometown of Pittsburgh at 4:30 a.m. As he signed in and received his key and residence life information, a crew of student volunteers were busy moving all of his belongings up to his Flather Hall room.

“This is so much more than I expected, it’s awesome,” Flaherty said. “I just showed up and there’s all these people taking care of us. It’s something I wouldn’t expect out of any college.”

Looking forward, Flaherty said he’s thinking about studying forensic psychology, but he’s keeping his options open. He said he’s also excited to get to know his classmates.

“I really love meeting people and I like to get to know everybody,” he said. “The faster I can do that, the better.”

Down the hall, Brendan Doyle, a freshman from Pennsylvania, was busy setting up his room with the help of his mother, Bernadette. Though his mother admitted she was “heartbroken” to see her son move away, Doyle said he is eager for the next step, which will include playing lacrosse for the University team.

“I’m excited about being on my own and starting a new chapter in my life,” he said.

Freshman Conor Flaherty (right) signs in with junior Luke Bader (left) and sophomore Chris Mulcahey (center) before moving into his room in Flather Hall.  

Helping Doyle move in was senior Joe McQuarrie, an elementary education major from Lawrenceville, N.J., who wheeled in a cart filled with bedding, clothing and a box of candy. Joking, he introduced himself: “Brendan, I’m your student minister, so I’m the one who comes to your room and finds out how you’re doing and eats all of your Sour Patch Kids.”

Back outside, student volunteers Caroline Johnson, a senior from Dallas, Texas, and John Paul McPherson, a sophomore from Clarksburg, Md., were returning to the line of cars, ready to carry another load of luggage.
For Johnson, helping out with freshman move-in — the first day of Orientation 2014 — is part of her job as resident minister. At Catholic University, resident ministers lives in the residence halls to offer support to students where they live.

“As part of our ministry, we work really hard to welcome the freshmen and make sure that they feel like they’re part of the community right from the start,” she said. “Move-in is the very first time they’re on campus, so it’s really important for us to be involved and be a positive face.”

McPherson chose to volunteer because he remembers how positive his move-in experience was a year earlier.
“As soon as the applications came for this, I signed up,” he said. “I knew I wanted to do this, to help welcome the first-years just as well as I was welcomed.”

Out of the sun in the Flather lobby, sophomore Chris Mulcahey of Waltham, Mass., and junior Luke Bader of Kennett Square, Pa., manned a sign-in table where they made sure each freshman had their keys and orientation information as well as a gift: a reusable CUA tumbler with a lid and straw. Mulcahey noted that the move-in process operates like a well-oiled machine, adding that there are more behind-the-scenes preparations than people realize.

  University President John Garvey and his wife Jeanne (left) talk with members of the Graham family during freshman move-in. 

“You don’t notice it as a freshman coming in how much work goes into it, but we’ve been here for two weeks training,” he said. “It’s worth it. It all pays off in the end.”

Mulcahey got involved in move-in as part of his job as a resident adviser.

“I wanted to be an RA mostly because I wanted to be a role model for the underclassmen, especially since last year my RA was so great with me,” Mulcahey said. “I really appreciated what he did for me and I wanted to give that back this year.”

In front of Ryan and Reagan halls, students and their families were greeted by University President John Garvey, his wife Jeanne, and their dog Gus. President Garvey said he enjoys making the students and their families feel a little more welcome on their first day on campus.

“First impressions matter and how you feel on your first day of school affects the way you feel for a year, so I think it’s really important for the students and the families to feel like they’re home now and they’re comfortable,” he said. “It affects the way they’ll approach other students and professors and how they’ll feel when they go to bed tonight.”

Upstairs in Ryan Hall, freshman Julia Emerson certainly knew how she was feeling after moving in.
“I like the fact that I get to live here,” she said. “I’m so excited and I get really jittery when I’m excited, so I’m like ready to run a marathon or something right now.”

Standing with her parents, Emerson said she might pursue nursing.

“I’m excited to learn about stuff that is relevant and that matters to the world and to me personally and how I can affect the world,” she said. “I’m here to get an education.”

Looking around again, she smiled. Though her roommate had only just arrived, Emerson’s half of the room was already set up, with the bottom bunk made and a poster board with photos of friends resting on her desk.

“It just hasn’t set in yet that this is it, this is where I’ll be this whole year,” she said. “I’m just so ready to get started.”



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