The first cars were starting to make their way into Saint Martin’s University’s Parsons Hall parking lot Friday morning, and volunteers sporting university T-shirts were ready and waiting to take whatever boxes and bags they could carry.
It’s a streamlined process that has been refined over the years to provide a warm welcome for the university’s incoming freshmen.
Among them was Jackie Schmaeling, who passed a box of her belongings and a pillow over to one of 16 volunteers helping her move in Friday.
She and her father, Dan Schmaeling, drove 13 hours from Sacramento, Calif., this week after a short pit stop with her grandparents in Redding.
The Oak Ridge High School graduate was recruited to Saint Martin’s to play softball.
“I enjoy the small class sizes, which really attracted me to here,” Schmaeling said. She plays catcher and plans to major in education.
Dan Schmaeling is saying goodbye to both of his daughters this year. His eldest went to a college in Sacramento last year, but has since transferred to California State University Northridge.
“One likes the city and heat while the other likes small town and cooler weather,” Dan Schmaeling joked outside the dorm. “We’re going from a full house to an empty house, which means I’m going to be doing a lot more fishing.”
Dad wasn’t showing signs of sadness, but it was still early in the day. Campus life director Laurel Dube said they see a wide range of emotion during the move-in process.
She also has seen parents and students going overboard with what can fit inside their new dorm.
“Last year someone brought in a large dresser and their own full-sized couch,” Dube said. “Nope, that’s not going to fit, and they had to just take it back.”
Dube has been a part of the freshman move-in for the past four years.
She expects about 150 students to move in over the weekend.
“We have a crew of students, alumni, faculty and staff that turn out each year,” Dube said. “It’s always amazing; we get a really good response.”
After a barbecue Friday night, the students will spend the rest of the weekend away from their family and focus on getting acclimated at the university.
That includes a welcome party at the home of university President Roy Heynderickx.
“He likes to personally welcome them to the university,” Dube said. “There aren’t a lot of schools where you have that, especially at the university president’s home.”Chelsea Krotzer: 360-754-5476 firstname.lastname@example.org @chelseakrotzer