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New Experiences, New Friends, a New School Year

August 19, 2013

By Melissa McCutchan

CIU Student Writer

August 11, 2013 was no ordinary morning for Rachel Somerville.  As the incoming CIU freshman packed her belongings into the back of her brother’s pickup truck, she had to pray that the old vehicle could make the drive from North Carolina to her new home on Monticello Road. 

Thankfully, the truck made the trip, and Somerville joined over 160 new students for Connect: CIU, an orientation designed to acquaint new students with their classmates, CIU, and the Columbia area. 

Students kept busy their first days at CIU registering for classes, attending sessions about time management and study skills, and socializing at activities.

“This transition looks different for everybody,” Dean of Students Rick Swift said to students in a Tuesday night welcoming session.  “Some of you moved in last night and have 73 new Facebook friends.  But for some of you, this is really, really hard.”

Connect: CIU was hosted by the “Connect Crew,” 10 returning CIU students who organized social events for the new students and assisted them in their move into the residence halls.  With events hosted by the Connect Crew squeezed in around informational sessions, the freshmen didn’t have much time to miss home.

“You may feel like you’ve been drinking from a fire hose the past few days,” Associate Provost Dr. Bryan Beyer said to students in a Thursday night commissioning service.

Thursday night brought the official end of Connect: CIU, though activities were far from over.  “Welcome Week” began on Friday morning, complete with surveys and social events. 

On Saturday morning new students took part in service projects.  Some students cleared debris from the wooded trails on the CIU campus.  Others took part in a carnival at nearby Forest Heights Elementary School, complete with face painting and moon bounces for children who live in the Monticello Road area.

“It was great to see new CIU students working together to accomplish any task that needed to be done in order to serve the community,” transfer student Whitney Spradley said. 

More than a hundred new students moved into the residence halls.  Posters are hung on the walls, and laundry hampers are already half-full of new CIU T-shirts. 

“Everything I own in the world is here,” Somerville said.  “It really feels like home.”