New Academic Year Kicks Off

New Academic Year Kicks Off

Nicole Newton and Lauren Tortorice. Photo: TJ Lievonen/UM News
By Janette Tannen and Ashley A. Williams

Nicole Newton and Lauren Tortorice. Photo: TJ Lievonen/UM News

New Academic Year Kicks Off

By Janette Tannen and Ashley A. Williams
The University of Miami welcomed more than 2,300 new students to campus as the fall semester got underway.

With the start of classes Monday, students at the University of Miami fanned out across campus, some lounging outside the Shalala Student Center or waiting in line at Starbucks for a Caramel Cocoa Cluster Frappuccino. Others loaded up on UM gear from the University Bookstore or rushed from the residence halls to their first morning class.

More than 2,300 students make up this year’s freshman class, coming from 47 states and more than 80 countries. It’s one of the largest freshman classes in UM’s history. 

UM News spoke to students across the Coral Gables campus about their experiences: 

Divina Chandiramani, junior marketing major, and Ariana Madan, junior psychology major:

Divina Chandiramani and Ariana MadanDivina Chandiramani and Ariana Madan took selfies to post on social media Monday, marking the start of the fall semester. This time last week, Chandiramani was back in her home country of Paraguay. On Monday morning, she was in front of the Merrick Building with Orlando native Ariana Madan, whom she met two years ago in the lobby of Mahoney-Pearson. The pair said they are most looking forward to classes becoming more concentrated in their majors. Also, Chandiramani said she's hoping she'll  “have more time and energy to dedicate to extracurricular activities this semester.”


Milena Pak, freshman biomedical engineering major:

Milena PakAlthough she has been living in the United States for a few years now, Milena Pak was unprepared for the humidity and heat that confronted her as she walked to her first class as a freshman. Fanning herself, Pak, a native of Moscow, was making her way along Lake Osceola toward her first class Monday, a psychology class. The biomedical engineering major said she did not realize the weather conditions would be so different when she made the choice to attend UM. “I really liked the location, even though now I’m dying from this heat,” said Pak, who attended three years of high school in Wisconsin. Regardless, Pak was still optimistic about starting college and is looking forward to the start of her college years. “I’m excited about being a part of campus life and meeting people from around the U.S. and the world,” she said, adding that she looks forward to studying abroad, hopefully in Germany (she is also a German minor).


Obi Okolo, senior biochemistry major:

Obi OkoloObi Okolo, a senior biochemistry major who hails from New York, was in the University Bookstore Monday morning stocking up on school supplies for the semester.  He spent his summer break preparing for the Medical College Admission Test. As president of the African Students Union, Okolo is looking forward to welcoming and connecting with new students this semester. “I am really looking forward to our clubs family bonding events and end of the semester banquet,” he said. 


Kyle Russo, freshman business major:

Kyle RussoFreshman Kyle Russo, was getting prepared for his second class while sitting outside the Shalala Student Center early Monday. Russo hails from Hauppague, New York on Long Island and had just attended Math 107, a pre-calculus course. “I took pre-calc already, so it was not too bad, but it’s only the first day,” he said. Later Monday, Russo, a business major, would be attending English 105 and Marketing 201. He said UM’s cognate system, which allows students to take classes not traditionally acknowledged as part of their major, really attracted him to UM.


Caleb Sun, sophomore psychology major:

Caleb SunCaleb Sun, of Barrington, Rhode Island, is happy to be back on campus. UM has become a safe place for him to be himself and he has been welcomed with open arms. “I feel more normal here than at home because I see more people who are like me,” Sun said. “I come from a very small town where I was one of three who identified as LGBTQ. I haven’t had any racial or homophobic slurs thrown at me, but back home I did. Everyone is really chill about having us on campus.”


Nikhil Sikha, senior neuroscience major:

Nikhil SikhaNikhil Sikha, a Fort Lauderdale native and neuroscience major, was trying to ease into his senior year with a philosophy class. “The first day was pretty slow, so it was not too bad,” he said. “It’s my first philosophy class, so I don’t really know what to expect.” With some of his medical school applications already complete, Sikha said this year he wants to take advantage of all that the U can offer. He said living on campus his freshman year was an extremely positive experience and he still has many of the friends he made from his dorm floor that year. “This year, I want to raise my GPA, have a lot of fun, and make new memories,” he said, adding that he hopes to continue his education at the Miller School of Medicine.


Amy Grace Humber, junior political science, sociology and African studies major:

Amy Grace and Bridget GidlowJunior Amy Grace Humber was excited about starting classes again but nervous about juggling the coursework with her two jobs – as a resident assistant (RA) and an assistant in the School of Law’s registrar department. Humber has three majors: political science, sociology and African studies. She has scheduled her classes all on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, but knows that scheduling may get tricky at times. “I really like my class schedule this year, but I am a little apprehensive because I have two jobs, so balancing that with my classes will be interesting,” the Memphis, Tennessee, native said. “But I am excited because of the classes I’m taking and because my people are here and we will be back in classes together.”


Jordan Basco, freshman electrical engineering major:

Jordan BascoJordan Basco, a freshman from New York majoring in electrical engineering, said he chose UM because of its diversity, culture and swag. To make himself feel at home, he brought along a photo of his family to display in his Hecht dorm room. “’Cane Kickoff made me feel welcomed,” he said. “Looking at the schedule was a bit overwhelming but once I got into the swing of things it all became so exciting.”


Nicole Newton and Lauren Tortorice, senior accounting majors:

Nicole Newton and Laura TortoriceSenior accounting majors Nicole Newton and Lauren Tortorice were both impressed by their first class of the year—Internal Auditing, taught by Lecturer Blanca Malagon. “It was a lot better than I thought it would be,” said Tortorice, a Massapequa, New York native. “She was able to keep me awake at 8 a.m., and it was nice coming out of an internship this summer and actually understanding what she was saying.” “She made the information relatable to the real world,” added Newton, a Fort Lauderdale native.