By 9:15 Wednesday morning, resident advisor Max Steinbaum had already introduced himself a few dozen times, greeting the first-year students moving into Randolph Hall, their parents and a few wide-eyed younger siblings.
If a key lesson of college is efficiency, Max taught it by example on the University of Mary Washington’s first move-in morning – giving directions, answering questions and offering friendly encouragement as needed, all without breaking a sweat. Wednesday’s event was specifically for the more than 1,000 incoming students UMW welcomes this fall, including about 300 transfers; move-in for other students continues through the weekend.
Things went smoothly as carloads of families parked on the grass near the Randolph front door, unloaded bins and bags, then swept out of the way to make room for the next wave. Blue-shirted move-in helpers were there to lend muscle and knowhow.
President Troy Paino and wife Kelly greeted new Eagles, starting at Randolph and moving on to Westmoreland, Willard and Virginia halls.
It helped that August was on its best behavior, offering sunshine and 70s instead of the typical sweaty 90s.
Still, dad Clinton Jones of Stafford County was happy to stand in the shade for a few minutes after unloading a vanful of possessions for daughters Chloe and Paris. While the Jones sisters and their mom, Blythe, made beds and arranged belongings in the Willard Hall room, Clinton Jones reflected on the occasion.
Chloe, a sophomore transferring to UMW after a year of community college, and Paris, a first-year, are best friends and good influences on each other. So Jones was not misty-eyed about their shared step toward independence and adulthood.
“I said, ‘Let me get out of the way and let you all do your thing,’ ” he said. Besides, they can always call him. Or he can call them. It’s not really goodbye.
Across campus at Westmoreland Hall, Jimetra and Sylvester Davis of Chesterfield kept their game faces as they saw off son Dorian. With Dorian’s younger sister, Madison, they’d already unloaded and broken down a pile of boxes by about 10:30 a.m. They planned to stick around till afternoon, but they had no doubt their son was ready to take this step on his own.
Dorian comes to UMW with two years of college credit already, having completed a community college associate degree via a dual enrollment at his high school. He’s excited about taking chemistry this fall. He played guard on his high school’s state championship basketball team, and he plans to play at Mary Washington too.
His parents know they’ll come to plenty of his games. So no, it’s not really goodbye.
Back at Randolph Hall, it wasn’t really goodbye for first-year student Alex Pineda-Bautista, younger sibling Shroom Pineda-Bautista, and mother Sandra Bautista of Falls Church. That didn’t mean this day was easy. The three shared hugs, laughter and encouragement, and Alex was in no rush to see them leave.
“She’s going to want to stay around for a while,” Alex said with a smile toward their mother, “so I’ll let her.”
The parental goodbyes were bound to come later in the day for new Randolph roommates Charlotte Niblett of Lynchburg and Caroline Jacobson of Lovettsville. Among other activities Wednesday were a resource fair, a first-in-family social, a first-letter campaign and the president’s welcome.
But for the moment, Charlotte and Caroline were focused on the practical, setting up beds and finding space for toiletries, clothes and that ubiquitous food of residence hall living, boxes of instant mac-’n’-cheese.
While the roommates unpacked and got to know each other, their parents helped as needed and coped as necessary.
Charlotte is a Mary Washington legacy – her grandmother Helen Callahan Hutter ’67 had reminisced with her about listening to the Beatles on the radio and dancing with her roommates. Charlotte’s mother, Margaret Niblett, predicted that her daughter would find similar joys in college life, since she’s independent and excited to figure things out on her own.
Caroline’s parents, Claudia and Jay Jacobson, were confident as well. She’s the last of their three children to leave for college, and they’re thrilled that she chose Mary Washington. The anticipation of Caroline’s college departure was the focus of summer, the family said, but now the day was finally here.
And it was all going to be just fine.