WVU's largest freshman class joins the Mountaineer family on move-in weekend

West Virginia University's largest ever freshman class was welcomed to campus Sunday.

Barb McPherson was dreading this weekend. She knew after having already moved three of her other children into residence halls throughout the years, the last would be the toughest.

So, when daughter Maddison made her last trip into her first-floor Boreman North room Friday at West Virginia University, the emotions set in.

“This is the baby. It’s bittersweet,” Barb said. “Her sisters both graduated from here and my son is going to school back home. She is by herself with no family – with friends – but no family. It makes it tough.”

Emotions like those flow freely each and every year on WVU’s Move-In Day, and this one was no different. There were tears, hugs and smiles just about everywhere you looked as families moved in their new students to residence halls across campus.

Then on Sunday, incoming students gathered together at the Coliseum for New Student Welcome. It’s the only time the Class of 2016 will be together at any point in their WVU careers.

They heard from WVU President Jim Clements, Student Government Association President Zach Redding and special guest speaker Alison Levine, the first female American to complete the Adventure Grand Slam – climbing the highest peak on each continent and skiing to the North and South Poles.

As Maddison was moving in Friday, the general studies major from Newell said she would miss her mom the most.

“That makes me feel very warm inside. We are very close,” Barb said, tears welling up. “I’m trying not be selfish, because this is about her and I want to be happy. I want her to enjoy her college life.

“This is a great school, and this is going to be a great experience for her being a bit away from home. I’m sure I babied her too much since she was the youngest, so she’ll grow up a little.”

On Friday, the last of around 5,200 freshmen – the largest class in WVU history – moved into their rooms and started their college careers after saying goodbye to family members.

“You’re supposed to raise your children to go off and do this, but when it comes it’s a little heart breaking at the same time,” said Laura Stout, a 1991 WVU graduate from Summersville and mother of twin daughters. “This is my alma mater, so it makes me feel a little better.”

Emily, a pre-speech pathology and audiology major, and Megan, an occupational therapy major, are staying in different rooms for the first time in 18 years – one in Boreman South and the other in Summit Hall.

“We’re going to have to get an apartment together next year, and we’ve been living together for this long, so we needed a year apart,” Megan said.

Emily added: “I’m pretty excited. I’m just excited to meet new people and start a new part of my life. I’m nervous too, but I think I’ll get adjusted pretty quickly.”

For Laura, the experience of being a parent to children going to WVU has made her want to come back to college, she admitted.

“I hope that they join a bunch of activities and meet new people. I told them to take advantage of it here, because once you are out and working, it’s not so fun anymore,” she said. “I love the amount of opportunities that they have that I didn’t have when I was here.”

On Saturday, students had the opportunity to get acclimated to college life through the First-Year Academy. Students visited with representatives from their colleges and took a tour of the libraries on campus.

In Sunday’s Welcome, President Clements told the students, “Becoming a Mountaineer is like joining a big family. Wear your ‘Flying WV’ proudly. When you graduate, you will help us to carry on our tradition of excellence.

“From everything I’ve heard, this is an awesome group of students – 5,200 strong – which makes you the largest incoming freshman class in the history of WVU,” he said.

“I want you to visualize yourself with the cap and gown, and then I want you to work hard every single day to make that happen. I know you will make that happen.”

Levine, the first woman to navigate the tallest peak on each continent and ski to the North and South Poles, said, “While I didn’t go here, I truly know what it takes to be a Mountaineer” as she likened her challenges on Mount Everest to the challenges they will face during college and their life.

WVU students started the “Let’s go—Mountaineers!” cheer before the event even took place. Mountaineer Mascot Jonathan Kimble helped teach the group the first-down cheer in preparation of the first football game next month.

Students also watched a video from students and faculty with tips on how to navigate their first year on campus.

Michael Jones, a pre-sport and exercise psychology major, and Bentley Knight, a biochemistry major, of New Martinsville have known each other since second grade, and now they get to experience college together.

From their room in Boreman South, both said they were excited for WVU athletic events.

“I will miss my friends and family most. Of course it’s going to be an adjustment. But I’m looking forward to meeting a lot of other people and getting to know them,” Jones said.

Classes start Monday, and the annual FallFest concert takes place that evening to signify the start of the 2012 fall semester. Make sure to follow @WVUToday on Twitter to respond to questions throughout Welcome Week.

Check out the weekend from the student’s perspective on our Storify at http://www.wvutoday.wvu.edu/welcome_week/.

-WVU-

td/08/19/12

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