With dozens of on- and off-campus volunteers assisting them, thousands of new and returning MTSU students moved in to campus Friday, Aug. 25.
The two-day event called We-Haul is an annual tradition where volunteers assist new and returning students and their accompanying family members with the moving in process that continues from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 26.
Bailey Hutchison, 18, a freshman nursing major from White House, Tennessee, and graduate of White House High School, said the move-in experience at seven-story Corlew Hall “has been good but hectic. I’m excited about starting a new adventure.”
“Holy crap. I didn’t realize I brought all this stuff,” Meredith Gordon of Lexington, Tennessee, exclaimed, as she waited in line to enter Corlew Hall.
Gordon, 18, a freshman undeclared major at MTSU, was helped by her parents, Sherry and Keith Gordon, and MTSU student Jalen Claybon.
Sherry Gordon said her daughter must decide quickly on a major; Meredith started her MTSU career only three hours shy of sophomore status after taking dual-enrollment classes from Jackson State Community College at Lexington High School.
Francesca Zappa, 18, of Chattanooga, Tennessee, met MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee in 2016 during the university’s True Blue Tour recruiting visit to her hometown. He talked to the family again Friday.
“I’m going into education and I can’t wait to meet his wife,” Zappa said of Elizabeth “Liz” McPhee, who retired after more than 30 years as an educator.
Zappa wants to be a middle school science teacher. Zappa’s brother, Keith Flinchum, 10; mother, Christy Zappa; and grandmother, Wanda Vogt, joined her for the move-in.
After assisting with students’ move-in at Monohan and Schardt halls, McPhee visited with families moving their new MTSU students into Corlew. He met several who also had attended the fall True Blue Tour.
“It’s a beautiful day,” said McPhee. “I’ve been doing this for 17 years. It never becomes routine. I still get chill bumps.”
“I love it when I have met these students and their families on the True Blue Tour,” he added McPhee, referring to the statewide and out-of-state recruiting trips that will expand to a 12th city, Birmingham, Alabama, this fall.
“This (We-Haul) is what it’s all about, making sure we get off to a great start.”
Among the out-of-state newcomers moving in were Gretchen Palmer, 18, formerly of Brighton, Michigan. a freshman psychology major, whose family moved to Lebanon, Tennessee, in July; Robert Carter, 18, a recording industry and commercial songwriting major from Narragansett, Rhode Island; and Megan Werne, 18, a freshman from Newburgh, Indiana.
Later Friday, new and returning students enjoyed dinner and a carnival in the Student Union Commons.
Saturday, the students’ Connection Point activities to become further “connected” to campus continues with the 5 p.m. Convocation in Murphy Center featuring J.D. Vance, author of “Hillbilly Elegy,” the summer reading selection for new students,and a go-to for national media regarding social issues. The President’s Picnic on the Kennon Hall of Fame lawn follows.
MTSU Fraternity and Sorority Life will have an open house on the Floyd Stadium concourse after the picnic.
At 2:30 p.m. Sunday in Tucker Theatre, “Freedom Sings” returns to campus for the first time since 2011. The signature program of the First Amendment Center features prominent recording artists playing music that has been banned or censored or sounded a call for social change.
Now in its 18th year, Freedom Sings tours U.S. college campuses across the nation supplemented by CDs, a documentary DVD and teachers’ guide. MTSU College of Media and Entertainment Dean Ken Paulson, who also serves as president of the First Amendment Center, writes and narrates the multimedia show.
MTSU classes will begin Monday, Aug. 28.
— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)