Rhema West had a mix of excitement blended with nervousness and anxiousness about her move in to Georgia Gwinnett College on Thursday.
The Snellville native and Brookwood High graduate moved into the residence hall with help from her mother, Lalena, and aunt and uncle, Daniel and Valerie Crenshaw. West said she’s also excited to meet all 11 of her roommates.
“At first I thought it was going to be totally fine,” she said. “Then I started to think about the fact that it’s 11 girls and there’s going to be problems. But if anything, I’m making more friends, so I’m excited.”
West plans to study business or finance, and eventually work as a financial advisor. She said she’s mostly nervous about being on her own for the first time and responsible for herself, yet also excited to start the next step in her career path.
West was the second child in her family to enter college after her brother enrolled at Wichita State University, but Lalena couldn’t make that move in day, so she appreciated being at GGC this time. Lalena called the move-in process “super helpful,” as they navigated through volunteers and staff members helping incoming students and their families unload cars and move through the residence hall.
Lalena said one professor helped them check in and must’ve, “immediately saw a deer-in-the-headlights” look on their faces.
“It’s very emotional,” the mother said, and noted that they started preparations about six months ago. “This week was when the doo-doo hit the fan. Paying the last of the bills, this is it.”
The Wests were among some 770 students and accompanying family members moving into residence halls, which meant they are at capacity, said Kyle Boone, GGC’s director of residence life. Fall semester classes begin on Monday.
For Boone, Thursday is one of his favorite days of the year. He expected to move in about half of the students in Thursday, and the balance the rest of the week. With a high chance of rain in the forecast on Thursday, Boone said he was concerned about the weather only in the sense that it would push students back and create a logjam later in the day.
“It’s the best day of the year,” Boone said. “A lot of our students, their families didn’t go to college. They’re the first. So this is a spectacular time because we get to educate families and the student about what it looks like. We’re setting the tone now. So it to me is wonderful.”
Boone said he’s worked in student affairs for 13 or 14 years, and in housing for about 10 years, and this kind of thing doesn’t get old to him. Residence hall programs this year would be geared more toward the college community and other areas of campus to better follow the mission of the school. Boone said the 40 resident assistants would expand out more proactively into the campus community.
Nearly 200 volunteers, including many faculty, staff and students, helped the incoming students unload vehicles and move in.
“That speaks to who we are as a campus,” Boone said. “Just that sheer number of people who want to volunteer who work here.”
One of those annual volunteers is Carl Woods, GGC’s director wellness and recreation, who is in his seventh of eighth year working move-in day. On Thursday, Woods took his usual position of directing cars at the front of the loading area to keep things moving. By mid-morning, he called the slow but steady atmosphere the calm before the storm.
“The later in the day it gets, the more people will come and we’ll be ready for them hopefully,” Woods said. “This has become like a tradition for us.”
Woods said students and families are still surprised that the school has an event where volunteers help unload and move in.
“I’ve seen a couple hugs already, and a few tears, because a lot of these are first-year students,” he said. “This is what I look forward to, I’m part of the process. I get to see them come in, so I get to introduce them to the wellness and recreation activity that we have. So it’s a great way for us to make that first connection and hopefully establish a relationship from there.”