Chowan students return to campus

Published 10:05 am Tuesday, August 25, 2009

MURFREESBORO — They came bumper to bumper with their vehicles packed with all of the staples for surviving dorm room life.

On Saturday, Chowan University welcomed incoming freshmen along with their families. Calls to approximate how many students the private university saw were not returned immediately as of press time Monday.

This year the day featured hospitality tents to greet the students/family members as well as to provide lunch. On hand were area churches, which along with local businesses and organizations contributed to make the day possible.

“We tried it last year, but this year it was more intentional,” said Mari Wiles, Minister to the University and Instructor of Religion. “With the stress and the economy we’re trying to meet a need.”

The muggy day wasn’t exactly ideal moving in weather, but the students and their families made the best of it. They came with dollies, carts and as many extra pairs of arms they could find in the form of aunts, boyfriends and even nanas.

Gabriel White of Richmond, Va. was among the flurry of activity outside of Belk Hall (one of Chowan’s female dormitories).

“I’m not nervous, but I’m excited,” she said about starting classes. “I’m looking forward to meeting new people.”

Gabriel along with her parents, Gloria and Tyrone, had just finished carrying her belongings to the third floor of the building. The teen, who plans to major in biology, was thankful to the student-athletes who were on hand to assist in helping the freshmen move in.

Gloria White said the family first found out about Chowan through a flyer in the mail. Tyrone then proceeded to bring the university’s Web site up online.

“I like it because it’s a small university and you don’t fall through the cracks,” said Gloria.

Rhonda and Jeffery Jones of Oxford said the idea of their daughter, Melissa, going to a small university was also appealing to them.

“She went to a small high school…sometimes a big university can be intimidating,” said Rhonda. “So far it’s been a great experience.”

For Melissa, who plans to major in graphics design and is a Belk Hall resident as well, the idea of “just being somewhere” was a plus.

In all seriousness, she added that the graphics program was what attracted her to the university.

Baffour Opoku of Chesapeake, Va. was one of those extra pairs of strong arms as he moved his stepdaughter, Bianca Michel, into Belk.

“We heard a lot of great things (about Chowan),” he said. “We like the small atmosphere…the closeness (of the campus body).”

Michel, who will be majoring in pre-law and criminal justice, said she had already felt that bond at Chowan.

“They knew my name,” she said about her check-in process. “It was like family. …I really can’t wait (for classes to begin).”

On the other side of campus, Dunn Hall (a male dormitory), was seeing the same bustle.

Betty Mickey of Sacks, Va. guarded her son’s (Walter) items as her family and student-athletes made trips from her vehicle to the dorm room.

Walter will be majoring in the graphics program and has an interest in joining the football team, but surgery for an ACL injury has forced him to sit out for at least a year.

Mickey said she was looking forward to meeting with the different churches to get an idea of the area.

“I think it’s nice (that they invited the churches),” she said. Zach Stallings of Pinefield, Ind. was attracted to Chowan for another reason.

“I have family in Virginia,” he said. “I was wanting to come out and be around them.”

Stallings said football was another reason as he plans to register for the sport this year. His major will be exercise fitness.

Stallings, was joined by his aunt, Hope Pittman, and “nana,” Diane Stallings, to help move him into the third floor of Dunn Hall. Nana Diane stayed in Stallings’ room to make his bed.

“It’s one less thing I have to do,” the teen quipped.

Stalling said the university football players were a big help while moving in. And, of course, the fact that Stallings brought along a hefty cart with large gripping wheels helped too. The freshman described it as “a Radio Flyer on steroids.”

Stalling said he’s looking forward to meeting new people the most.

“I’m looking to get involved with the community,” he said. “I want to get to know everybody.”

Pittman said she was looking forward to making connections of her own at lunchtime at the hospitality tent.

“I think it is great,” she said about the campus. “There has been a tremendous amount of help (with moving in).”

Rita Deloatch of Winton was also moving in her son, Derek, into Dunn Hall.

Deloatch said growing up in the shadow of Chowan did influence her and her son’s decision in him attending.

“It’s a landmark,” she said. “It’s an opportunity for him to get a good job.”

Deloatch said she was impressed with the area churches coming out to greet the students and their parents.

“I think it’s wonderful and it says a lot about the community,” she said.