As soon as Johns Creek resident Jaelyn Patrick and her family arrived at her dorm room at Georgia Gwinnett College on Monday morning, her mother immediately set about moving all of the furniture around.
The two large carts filled with stuff for the freshman’s room, as well as a couple of plastic cases filled with clothes and photos stayed in the common room of the dorm suite while Patrick, 17, and her mother, Jovonni Patrick, tried to figure out how to arrange the room.
The desk was moved out first. Then a couple of dressers were moved aside. Once the mother and daughter got the bed arranged and a rug laid down, then everything could be placed.
“The dresser is going to go here,” Jovanni Patrick said as she pointed to one wall in the dorm room.
Her daughter replied, “The dresser? I thought my desk was going there.”
“Your desk, I’m sorry,” the mother said.
With the fall semester beginning Wednesday, the school began letting its new students move in to the college’s residence hall Monday. It’s part of the school’s Grizzly Days orientation offerings for new students.
Georgia Gwinnett College officials anticipated at least 611 students will move into on-campus housing over the course of Monday and Tuesday. They said the number could be as many as 867 students.
For new students, like Patrick, and their parents, the moving in process brought a lot of heavy lifting to get settled in as well as an array of emotions about starting college.
“It’s a new part of my life so I’m looking forward to seeing what I can learn,” said Patrick, who will study biology with plans to eventually attend medical school. “(I’m looking forward to) starting my classes and working toward my major.”
Jovonni Patrick said her daughter being away at college will be a big change for herself and her husband, Lincoln, but she was likely having a harder time with it than her daughter was. Jaelyn is the youngest of three children.
“I think I’m having more anxiety than she is,” Jovonni Patrick said.
Monday was Georgia Gwinnett’s first move-in day under new college president Jann L. Joseph and the college leader visited the school’s residence hall to greet some of the new students and help them move into their rooms.
She helped freshman Tiahna Noel, 18, move in to her dorm suite. Noel is from St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, putting her a long distance away from her family.
“For me, this is a really big one because of just walking in with (Noel), seeing her excitement and having a chance to talk to her and just to remind her why she is here and (telling her) this is a room — it’s a place to live in, but this is her new campus home,” Joseph said of her first move-in day as GGC’s president.
Joseph said she wanted Noel and the college’s new students to feel welcome when they arrived for move-in day.
“I met with (the college’s resident assistants) last week and in talking with the residents assistants, I really impressed upon them their responsibility to help the new students feel welcome,” the college president said. “I impressed upon them (to remember) what they felt, how they dealt with it (as freshmen) and how it was time to pay it forward.
“We have put so much in place for (the new students) to be comfortable and successful, so that’s what I want from them. And, I want their parents to know that they’re away from home, it’s going to be tough some days and they’re going to want to give up and go back home, but that this is OK. This is a rite of passage for them.”
Freshman psychology major Zaria Lewis, 19, walked into the common area of her dorm suite with her mother to find Joseph standing inside and talking to one of her roomates.
Lewis and Noel will be living in adjacent rooms in the same dorm suite.
“It was shocking because (college presidents are) usually in their office or something so it’s good that she’s interacting with us and trying to get to know us,” said Lewis, who is from Bainbridge.
Noel said she is filled with excitement about moving into her dorm and starting classes at the college because of the change that it represents.
As she stood beside Joseph in her dorm suite, she said she wants to meet as many people as possible at the college and experience as much of college life as she can.
“It’s very different for me and I’m just bubbling with excitement because this is a new experience for me and I’m ready to start my journey,” Noel said.