Living at Lakeside

Living at Lakeside

Sophomores Ally Gaddy (left) and Katarina Jenkins (right) relax in their Lakeside Village apartment. The new housing complex offers students a range of unit layouts, including a mix of modern apartments and suites. Photo: Jenny Hudak
By Jenny Hudak

Sophomores Ally Gaddy (left) and Katarina Jenkins (right) relax in their Lakeside Village apartment. The new housing complex offers students a range of unit layouts, including a mix of modern apartments and suites. Photo: Jenny Hudak

Living at Lakeside

By Jenny Hudak
As the semester winds to a close, students and staff share their first experiences living in the University’s highly anticipated state-of-the-art housing complex.

Flaunting beautiful views of the University’s Coral Gables campus along Lake Osceola’s shoreline, the highly anticipated state-of-the-art Lakeside Village finally opened its doors in August —  ushering in a new era of on-campus housing experiences for ’Canes.  

The 12-acre housing complex broke ground in February 2018, setting its sights on becoming the University’s first transformative living community for students. The village’s inaugural residents flocked to the campus community. Face masks and hand sanitizers in tow, they marveled at their living spaces, radiating excitement and pride to be the first ’Canes to live in the village. With the fall semester now coming to a close, students share their experiences as the building’s first residents.  

Ally Gaddy, a sophomore majoring in public relations and media management, and her roommate, Katarina Jenkins, a sophomore majoring in political science and philosophy, described their first semester living in Lakeside Village as “perfect.” 

“I remember the day of our housing appointment online. Kat and I had everything ready and made sure at least one of us was available to claim a room. Not living here wasn’t an option for us,” Gaddy recalled.  

The village offers students a range of unit layouts, including a mix of modern apartments and suites. For students, the ability to live in apartment-style spaces on campus enables them to live independently while still being located in the heart of the Coral Gables campus. 

Gaddy and Jenkins were particularly drawn to the community’s apartment-style living options. The students feel as though their unit in Lakeside Village is not only a physical upgrade from their rooms last year but also a personal step towards matureness.  

“I think it’s the perfect mix of having your independence and opportunity to step into ‘adulthood’ but also still feel like a huge part of the UM community,” Jenkins said. Citing the village’s proximity to her classes, dining options, and various outdoor study spaces, she added, “It’s great to feel so safe, in the middle of campus, but still like I’m living on my own.” 

Strolling through the grounds’ lush greenery, Shane Shakoor, a sophomore majoring in motion picture business, says that his time at Lakeside Village has been marked by a tremendous sense of belonging – and beautiful views.  

"There’s a great sense of community among the floors. I have a lot of friends living here,” Shakoor said. After living in Eaton as a first-year student, Shakoor is enjoying his suite-style living with his roommate and perfect view of Lake Osceola.  

A prevalent theme among residents is a feeling of mutual respect for their building and each other, reminding us of the importance of the ’Canes Care for ’Canes philosophy. 

“As the first students to live here, I feel like we have an example to set. We know that the underclassmen are looking up to us and how we live here, so I think everyone around us really values the opportunity to be a part of the Lakeside community,” Jenkins said. 

The housing complex also provides a range of new amenities, including a centralized packaging location, study lounges, music practice rooms, meditation areas and an outdoor recreation center. A salon and several exciting dining options are set to open next year.  

Alex Castañeda, one of the area directors for Lakeside Village, shared that the launch of the new housing complex, especially amid the University’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, is “a true success story.” 

“With all the twists and turns, the students and community assistants have been excellent. The administration did a lot on the back-end, but the student staff has been the ones making sure that our vision is met,” Castañeda said. 

Unlike the role of a traditional resident assistant (RA), Lakeside Village’s community assistants (CA) offer general support to students and safe programming for students to connect with fellow Lakeside Village residents outside of their floor and room assignments. Many CA’s share in the excitement of getting to be the first group of students to work and live in the new community.  

James Lai, a senior majoring in biomedical engineering and community assistant in Lakeside Village, says the excitement students felt during move-in week still hasn’t faded.  

“People were really eager to be moving into Lakeside. I think everyone was just in shock to see how nice their rooms were. Weeks later, there’s still an air of grandeur that dawns on you when you walk into the building, ” Lai said. 

Lai and his fellow CA’s worked tirelessly to bring safe programming to the Lakeside community following the procedures of the University’s COVID-19 guidelines. Physically distant outdoor movie nights, sunset yoga, and mental wellness giveaways are among the many activities they hosted for residents. Lakeside’s outdoor spaces like the sand volleyball area and a plethora of new gliders, Lai said, have also allowed for students to gather in small groups while maintaining a safe distance. 

Several campus partners played a crucial role in developing and constructing the University’s plans for Lakeside Village. To shape their vision, the University spent years collecting student feedback about their own living experiences.  

Patricia A. Whitely, vice president for student affairs, says that the housing complex is truly an amalgamation of previous students’ shared experiences and feedback. 

“We looked deeply at how students were living, what their needs were and how we could meet those needs on campus. Their feedback throughout the process was invaluable and created the safe, innovative community environment we’re seeing today,” Whitely said.  

While most students that participated in the planning process have graduated before the building’s opening, Sabrina Ginsburg, a senior majoring in health science, holds a particular affinity toward the housing complex. In 2018, Ginsburg joined a student focus group to select the new dining options. Now in her senior year, Ginsberg is excited to enjoy the community experience she helped create.  

“I remember in those meetings we always talked about how this building would be ground-breaking for college campuses. We were going to set a new precedent and I think we have,” Ginsburg said. “It’s incredible to see our vision, what we talked about then come to fruition.” 

The opening of this housing complex has not only elevated the student experience but redefined the landscape of the University community. Like the existing residential colleges, Lakeside Village continues on its journey to instill a rich history as a place for ’Canes to call ‘home’ for decades to come.