JACKSON, Tenn. – Aug. 26, 2002 – If you happened to drive by Union University’s campus early the morning of Saturday, August 24th, the campus was a picture of peace. A few cars were scattered along the edges of the parking lots while their drivers were sleeping, not yet thinking of the freshmen set to descend upon the campus. As the sun rose and 10 a.m. arrived, the calm scene of early morning rest suddenly became a hive of activity as parents and students began to arrive and begin a new phase in their lives.
Families came from all across the country and beyond, some here for the first time and some moving in their second or even third child. Not only were there parents, but siblings and friends. Some students brought along even their aunts and uncles, as was the case with Jean Thayer, who brought along her aunt and uncle along with her mother on the 16 hour drive from Minnesota. Together they joined in on the family festivities planned as a part of the first day of new student orientation. These families play a huge part in helping the new class of students settle into their rooms, in addition to the many upperclassmen that offered a helping hand in the process of moving into the dorms.
A Union tradition - faculty, staff and students help the new kids on the block move in.
“I really did enjoy it,” said sophomore Holly Burnett as she took a break from the hot sweaty work in the air conditioning of her room.
“The parents do too,” added fellow sophomore Amy Coxwell. “We remember when we moved in and all the people were helping. Our parents thought it was wonderful.”
“We love it,” said parent Sarah Michael, of Bloomington, Ill, as she helped move in her son Nathan. “Everybody is so friendly here and that’s a big thing, Nate’s very outgoing. Everybody’s real friendly and helpful and so it’s been awesome.”
“It’s exciting because we know what he doesn’t know yet,” said Gwen Penny, wife of Michael Penny, a music professor at Union, as she helped her son, Andrew, set up his room. “We know how much fun he will have, we know the freedom he’s getting ready to experience. If you had the opportunity, most people would go back to college-you wouldn’t go back to high school-but you would go back to college. We know that it’ll be the best time of his life and we’re excited for him. This is our last one, so we’re entering a new phase in our lives too. It’s kind of mixed, sad and happy at the same time.” Once the initial frenzy of arrival settled down, many students used the free time as a chance to pick up the last few items they needed from Wal-Mart or to put the finishing touches on their rooms.
“I did all I could do, now they’re talking about putting up curtains,” said Cliff Hand of Mayfield, N.Y., as he relaxed on the porch swing across from his daughter Megan’s room. “We’ll be going with her to worship, then it’s on the road again.”
For many families, worship was the last event of their brief stay on Union’s campus. Before the service began, President Dockery encouraged any students who were not sitting with their families to join them. So it was that throughout the room mother and daughter joined their voices in praise to God and father and son laughed together at the list of the “Top Ten Ways to Tell You’re a College Student” that was shared by the university minister, Todd Brady. As the evening drew to a close, there were many tear filled eyes and heartfelt embraces as some parents, like the Hands, hit the road, and others, such as the Hoffmans, prepared to fly back to Canada. Worship was a wonderful close to a long day filled with all the ups and downs and uncertainties of the first day at college.
“It’s a milestone in all of our lives and we’re proud of him,” said Michael Penny of his feelings about his last child starting college. His words fit the emotions of many of the parents at the close of the day and beginning of things both new and unknown, but long anticipated.
By Alaina Kraus, Class of 2005
Sara B. Horn,