Class of 2019 Moves In

By Maya Bell

Class of 2019 Moves In

By Maya Bell
Students, and the presidential family, get acclimated to their new home.

Moving into Hecht Residential College Wednesday morning, Marina Schreiber admitted she was a little nervous. After all, college seemed so big and impersonal. But any doubt that the University of Miami will become her home away from home melted when two other newcomers, UM President Julio Frenk and his wife, Felicia Knaul, were among the first to welcome her to campus.

“We just left our daughter at medical school in Mexico, so we know how you feel,” Knaul told Marina, handing her a business card as she and the U’s new president visited the Hecht and Stanford residential colleges on their first move-in day. “If you need anything, come see me.”

The chance encounter not far from the bustling loading dock was a comfort to both Marina and her mom, Denise Schreiber, who were soon admiring Marina’s view of Lake Osceola from her sixth-floor room in Rosborough Tower. She will share her living quarters with Maureen Gilbert, who arrived the day before from Webster City, Iowa.

Meeting for the first time, the new roommates were among the 1,800 freshmen who, with parents and friends lending helping hands—and some muscle— settled into their dorms on August 18 and 19 to begin the next chapter of their lives. As members of the Class of 2019 pushed carts laden with suitcases, comforters, carpets, pillows, and other essentials, the anticipation for the start of the fall semester on Monday was palpable, and sometimes palpably bittersweet.

“She is so excited, so I am excited,’’ said Colleen McHugh about daughter Molly, who was drawn to UM from Philadelphia by its suburban/big-city locale, high academics, and warm weather. “I can’t imagine saying goodbye, but we will get used to the new normal. And we can visit in the winter.”

Observing the controlled chaos, Jim Smart, director of Housing and Residential Life, said he never tires of the move-in day ritual, which as much as the times have changed has remained much the same during his 27 years at UM.

“The hairstyles and clothes may change, but it’s still a celebration of the human endeavor,” Smart said. “So you never tire of seeing all the eager, fresh faces and all the parents excited, and a little traumatized.’’

Of course technology has changed considerably, so a team of UMIT technicians were on hand to help students set up wireless connections and virus protections on their laptops, cell phones, tablets, and, as Terry Helmers, senior technical analyst, put it, “whatever other electronic gizmos they have today that we didn’t have when we went to school.” As he noted, “slide rules didn’t need adjusting.”

Preparing to leave daughter Katie at UM, Gayle Giacobbe, of Ormond Beach, Florida, said she knows she’ll be doing a lot of adjusting herself, but she’s up for the challenge. “Education is No. 1 for us so we couldn’t be happier. It’s a great time to be a college student and the opportunities are endless, especially here. It’s very exciting, and, yes, very emotional.”

After settling into their living quarters, members of the Class of 2019, many of them accompanied by parents and siblings, attended ’Canes Kickoff at the BankUnited Center, where Frenk delivered his first welcome address, telling students they will play a significant role in defining and shaping the University’s future as it enters its second century of existence. “Our horizons are indeed bright, with so many opportunities for growth,” Frenk said.

He urged students to seize the many learning and research opportunities that will be available to them both in and outside the classroom. “Explore disciplines outside your major,” Frenk said. “Learn to listen to other viewpoints and ideologies, even if they make you uncomfortable.”

Noting that he is a physician, Frenk also told students to “stay healthy” and encouraged them to make use of the Herbert Wellness Center and to participate in club and intramural sports. And he noted UM’s rich intercollegiate athletic history, and that two students recently helped carry on that tradition—UM soccer goalie Catalina Perez, who participated in the Women’s World Cup, and track star Shakima Wimbley, who won gold and silver medals at the Pan Am Games.

Frenk and Knaul then enjoyed the pageantry of ’Canes Kickoff, an annual event that welcomes new students to campus and features performances by the UM Band of the Hour, cheerleaders, and Sunsations dance team; remarks by student leaders; and more.

Robert C. Jones Jr. contributed to this report.