Academics People and Community

University students exude enthusiasm on first day of classes

As the 2020 Fall semester began on Monday, many students voiced their desire to learn and meet new people.
Students walk by the Merrick building on the first day of Fall classes.
Students walk across the Coral Gables Campus on Aug. 17, the first day of Fall classes. Photo: TJ Lievonen/University of Miami

Though their expressions were concealed behind mandatory masks, many University of Miami students were excited to be on the Coral Gables Campus on Monday.

Kevin ValverdeKevin Valverde, a transfer student from Miami majoring in business administratio, sat with a friend at the Lakeside Village housing complex while he waited for his next in-person class to begin.  

“There’s so much I’m looking forward to,” he said. “Learning the campus for sure, because I am so lost right now. And learning more about business because that’s my passion. Right now, I have my online clothing store going for me and after taking my first marketing class today, I am looking forward to using what I learn to help me.” 


Marcus ColonMarcus Colon is a transfer student majoring in musical theatre who hails from Brooklyn, New York. He said he can’t get over the beauty of the campus. He walked around to get more familiar with his new home.

“I love being on campus,” said Colon. “Since I’m a transfer and it’s my first time going away for college, this semester I’m looking forward to many things like new friends, new experiences, and new everything. It may be harder to meet new people since there are rarely any in-person events, but I’m still going to try to make this new beginning as great as possible and I know I’ll be successful in that.”

Chloe BeachChloe Beach, a first-year public relations major from Aurora, Illinois, sat alone in front of the Donna E. Shalala Student Center after finishing her first class of the fall semester—English 105 in the new Lakeside Village. She said she hasn’t found the new safety measures to be that difficult to adjust to and will do her part so that she can come back in the spring.

“It was a little difficult to hear my professor because of the masks, but she did a great job at making us feel welcomed and I could tell she thought it was important for us to get to know each other,” said Beach. “I’m looking forward to meeting new people and learning new things and exploring Miami.”


Kalen TonKaleb Ton, a first-year aerospace engineer major from West Virginia, said the Miami heat  takes some adjustment, but he’s happy about exploring campus life. He recently became a new member of the University’s scuba diving club.

“It has been a huge change of pace and just the atmosphere,” said Ton. “I am looking forward to meeting new people and trying more new things that I haven’t been able to do before.”

Donald HenryDonald Henry, an accelerated nursing student who hails from Haiti, was on campus for his first semester and said his first class went very well.

“I am quite impressed with all the safety measures they have put in place,” he said. “And the cleanliness of everything from the bus stop to the classrooms and the cafeteria. I believe this was planned out very well.”

Candace SukieCandace Sukie, another accelerated nursing student from Miramar, Florida, had three classes on campus on Monday and was happy to be able to attend in person. She had only taken classes online this summer, so Sukie eagerly logged in to CaneLink this past weekend, where she found a seating chart for each of her classes and the correct doors for entry and exit.

“Everything feels clean and organized and the campus is really pretty,” she said. “I also like how they assigned seats and spaced out the desks so there was no confusion. I look forward to being on campus more and experiencing what I am paying tuition for.” 

Nouf BehbehaniNouf Behbehani, a first-year student from Kuwait, said she is very excited for the semester to start. On Monday, she was waiting outside the Shalala Student Center for her first class to begin. Behbehani spent the past year refining her language skills in the Intensive English Program through the University’s Division of Continuing and International Education and was looking forward to studying environmental engineering.

“I really want to become an inventor,” she said. “I hope all the things I can learn this year will benefit me to become an engineer and later an inventor. So I can make a good change in my life and make changes for the environment.”

Student photos: Ashley A. Williams and Janette Neuwahl Tannen