Many, if not most of the first-year students moving into their residence halls on Monday, August 27, had been to Emerson before. It was Nashville native Ansley Moore’s fourth time on campus.
The pre-college program veteran said she “fell in love” with Emerson during those visits.
“Everyone was so passionate about what they were doing; even if it wasn’t what I wanted to do, they were all just so passionate about it,” she said. “I felt like everyone cared about each other and they wanted to learn and respect other people, and I just really meshed with that. I kept coming back and that was a consistent thing I saw and I wanted to be here.”
Her mother, Melissa Moore, waiting patiently on Boylston Street while Ansley chatted with an orientation volunteer, said dropping off her oldest at a college 1,100 miles away was “hard but exciting.”
“I’m trying to focus on the fact that she’s excited and loves that she gets to come to Emerson, versus that she’s not coming back home with me,” Moore said.
Every year in late August, first-year and transfer students arrive on campus for a week of orientation events before the returning students come back for the fall semester—a week that kicks off with Move-In Day.
(For the first time this year, students of color were invited to come a few days early, along with international students, to participate in a pre-orientation program.)
Dozens of student, faculty, and staff volunteers, and even President Pelton pitch in to help.
On a vertical, urban campus like Emerson’s, getting hundreds of students and their metric tons of stuff out of idling vehicles and up several stories to their rooms without causing undue burden to the motorists and office workers of Boston requires the logistical planning, coordination, and stamina of a Broadway musical. It’s no wonder many of the student volunteers wear dance costumes and blare tunes.
This year, the process was made even more streamlined so that cars could move off Boylston Street sooner and there were fewer backups in the elevator banks. Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs Sharon Duffy said that with all the campus construction going on, her team decided to condense move-in to one day (from two) and to stagger arrival times based on residence hall and floor, to keep things moving.
“Right now, there are no cars waiting on the streets, there are no carts waiting to get into elevators, so, so far, so good,” Duffy said on Monday mid-morning. “Our Housing and Residence Life staff, our orientation staff, and our new student programs and transitions staff really put in extra time to make sure this was going to work, and they succeeded.”
Nyanda Callinder ’21 volunteered at the event, helping to unload vehicles laden with décor and essentials and answering questions from nervous-but-excited students and their heartbroken-but-proud parents. So far in the morning, the students themselves had been pretty quiet, Callinder said, with the parents asking most of the questions.
This time last year, Callinder was one of those first-year students watching their stuff being loaded into rolling bins and whisked off to a residence hall in a vortex of controlled chaos. Her experience as an incoming student led her to volunteer at move-in this year.
“Last year, I saw one student of color during orientation and it really made me feel like I belong,” said Callinder, who is African American, “so I wanted to be that person for a student coming in just so they can see a familiar face and, hopefully, if they see me around campus later on during the year, they feel like they can say ‘hi’ and they already have a friend.”
It turns out that it’s actually more stressful to be the one in charge of getting everyone unloaded and in their rooms than it was for her to be a new student, she said, “but it’s really cool to help people come in; it’s really awesome.”
Down at the other end of the block, Nicolas Chmielewski was contemplating his new life in Boston and coming soon, his new understanding of winter.
Chmielewski, originally from Argentina by way of Miami, said he’s seen snow before. But in a few short months, he’s going to develop a much closer relationship to it, something he’s actually looking forward to—though his main reasons for coming to Emerson were the film program, the “beautiful city” of Boston, and its proximity to New York.
“I think I’m just really excited to experience living in the city,” Chmielewski said. “It’s really different from what I’ve come from, and I think it’ll be good to meet new people and be immersed in the different cultures.
“I’m very nervous…but I think that’s good,” he added.
Marie Gutierrez of Odessa, Texas, also is looking forward to living and learning in a new place.
“I did a lot of research, and [Emerson] just seemed like the right school for me,” she said. “…The programs and all the work that they do to be diverse and to integrate all different types of writing from all different places.”
Her mother, Alice Gutierrez, said Marie is the first of her children to go to school so far from home, but she knows she’s a good student and will do well.
“It’s scary, [but] I’m very proud of her for being so courageous,” Gutierrez said. “It’s tough letting her go, but she’s dreamt of this since she was in elementary school.
“I just want it to be the [college] experience that she’s expecting and that’s what we feel like Emerson will be for her.”