MTSU students continue to return to campus this week for the start of the fall semester, with some pandemic precautions still in place but also loosened restrictions to provide them the more traditional in-person experience that drew them to the Blue Raider campus.
“It’s just exciting. I’ve waited all summer for it,” said 18-year-old Justin Tatum of Cane Ridge, Tennessee, a May 2021 Brentwood Academy graduate and former Lighthouse Christian School student. “I’m ready for a change — a new chapter in my life.”
In a scheduled pattern that began midweek, Tatum was among nearly 3,000 new and returning students moving in to campus housing. While some students taking part in special conferences or other reasons moved in early, the majority are moving in now through Saturday, Aug. 21 — in time for the annual Convocation event to kick off the year.
Campus housing is back to full occupancy this year, said Amy Korstange, associate director of Residential Life. Last fall, because of COVID-19 precautions, campus housing was reduced to single-occupancy rooms to mitigate virus spread and to facilitate social distancing. MTSU is requiring everyone wear masks in all buildings.
Tatum, Elijah Robinson of Nashville, Tennessee, and Isabella Campbell of Franklin, Tennessee, made the move earlier this week with help from family members.
Tatum’s parents and MTSU alumni Jarrold and Tracy Tatum and sister Jasmin Tatum provided physical (lifting and otherwise) support for the incoming freshman, who plans to major in film and video production in the College of Media and Entertainment’s media arts department.
“(Film and video production) is a great program here. It’s one of the main reasons I came here,” Justin Tatum said. “I’m looking forward to getting started and making the most out of the opportunities I will have here.”
Friend and roommate Robinson, a Lighthouse graduate, said moving in and starting college will be “an adjustment. It’s something I have to get used to.” He also plans to study film and video production.
Assisted by parents Russ (alumnus with geology degree) and Andrea Campbell in her move into high-rise Corlew Hall, Isabella Campbell will double major in English and international relations and minor in Portuguese and Spanish.
“Honestly, I’m a little nervous,” she said, taking a break from bringing her personal belongings to her dorm room. “I just received a syllabus for all my classes — and it hit me then.”
The 18-year-old Franklin High graduate with a 31 ACT score and 4.2 weighted GPA, said the “majority of my classes are things I enjoy. … It is a bit of a workload, but I’m not too worried.” A Presidential Scholarship ($4,500 per year) and Hope Lottery Scholarship will help defray her college expenses.
Convocation will be held starting at 6 p.m. Saturday in Murphy Center and features youth advocate and U.S. Army veteran Wes Moore, author of MTSU’s Summer Reading Selection, “The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates,” as guest speaker. Because of COVID-19 precautions, masks will be required.
MTSU’s fall semester begins with classes Monday, Aug. 23.
— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)