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They're Back! Duke's First-Year Class Hits Campus
Durham, NC - As the silver minivan approached Blackwell Residence Hall, a mighty "Whoo!" blared forth. Before the vehicle even eased to a stop, it was surrounded.
A cheery collection of neon yellow-clad student volunteers, all members of Duke's First-Year Advisory Committee, leaped into action. The doors swung open and within minutes, bags, boxes, a dorm fridge, a bean bag chair and new student Casey Tissue had been liberated from the cramped van and escorted to Casey's dorm room.
It was quite a scene, marveled Debbie Tissue, Casey's mother.
"I thought it was awesome," she said. "It's a little embarrassing because she has so much stuff!"
This was the scene Tuesday as Duke moved more than 1,700 first-year students into East Campus residence halls. It's an exercise requiring military precision, a lot of planning and some very good luck. The rainstorms of Monday were a distant memory by Tuesday morning and the sort of blazing heat common to move-in day didn't materialize either. Instead, it was largely gray for much of the morning.
That had Clay Adams smiling.
"Overcast in August?" This is awesome," said Adams, assistant dean for residence life and director of New Student Programs. "The weather couldn't have cooperated any better."
Students moved into their new homes in three shifts over a frenetic six-hour stretch and will be busy all week with orientation activities.
The first-year class is a diverse bunch, and the parking lot outside Blackwell hall told the story. At one point, a line of vehicles displayed license plates from Missouri, New York, Virginia, Colorado, New Jersey, Florida and Pennsylvania.
In all, the class of 2016 represents 49 U.S. states and 50 countries. The most hail from California and North Carolina, each state contributing 175 members to the class. Other top contributors include New York with 157 students and Florida, with 122.
This class includes 198 African-Americans, the most ever in a first-year class. It also includes the third-highest number of Latino students -- 119 -- and the second-highest number of Asian first-years, 476. And 186 new students come from other countries, 11 percent of the class.
Kevin Bailey was in town to help his youngest daughter, Kristen, move into her freshman dorm room. Kristen is the youngest of his three children, which means Kevin and his wife will have a quiet house and a bunch of free time, he said. It also means a phase of life has ended.
"I have mixed emotions," said Bailey, whose family lives in suburban Chicago. "She's our last one. You feel an emptiness, a little bit of loss. It will be different at home now."
Gin Todd, who was bringing her son, Aldon, to begin his Duke career Tuesday, said her emotions were all over the place as well.
"It's exciting and chaotic and stressful," said Todd, who grew up in North Carolina but now lives in Florida. "He's my only child. I'll be sad later, but right now I'm very happy for him."
For his part, Aldon appeared unfazed. A lifelong Duke fan, he said Tuesday he's excited to start college and appreciated the welcome he got from the student volunteers.
â¨"I'd rather have a lot of people welcome me than to just do it myself," he said. "That'd be pretty boring."
Pictured below, President Richard H. Brodhead greets Tyler Hobbs and Ngozi Max-Macarthy (right), who were among the resident assistants and FACs working on East Campus Tuesday. Bottom, FACs at Gilbert-Addoms residence hall dance and sing to entertain arriving students and their families. Photo by Megan Morr/Duke University Photo.
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