21 for ’21: Meet Some of the Newest Cavaliers

21 for ’21: Meet Some of the Newest Cavaliers

They might be from around Virginia or around the world, but they have at least one thing in common: They’re ready to make their mark at UVA. Meet 21 new ’Hoos in the Class of 2021.

Over the weekend, more than 3,800 students in the University of Virginia’s new first-year class converged on Grounds, meeting new roommates, hauling mini-fridges and plastic bins and gradually settling into their new home.

These new ’Hoos come from around the commonwealth and around the world, representing 47 U.S. states and 73 countries. Over the coming months, they will begin to make this community their own as they meet new friends, pursue new subjects and get involved with clubs, sports teams and other student groups.

UVA Today met 21 members of the Class of 2021 as they moved in this weekend. Though just a small sample of their class, their enthusiasm, interests and perspectives are a great example of what the newest Cavaliers will bring to Grounds.

Get to know them below.

Eric Davis

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Cameryn Fischer

Hometown: King George, Virginia

As he moved into his dorm, Davis was already wondering how UVA would change and shape his ambitions. Currently, he hopes to become a lawyer.

“I’m so excited to explore Grounds and, hopefully, make connections and friendships for life,” he said.

Leticia Freitas

Hometown: Charlottesville, Virginia

Though she is not moving far, Freitas expects her UVA experience will be very different from attending high school in Charlottesville.

“I am really looking forward to new classes that I could not take at my high school, like psychology,” she said. “I believe I will be much more independent, and though it will be a big change, I think I will like it a lot.”

Jacob Rantas and Cameron Veach

Hometown: Wayne, New Jersey and Winchester, Virginia, respectively

Rantas and Veach, new roommates, had just met when UVA Today caught up with them Friday. Both said they were looking forward to meeting new people, especially those from other areas of the country and the world.

“Coming from New Jersey, I am excited to immerse myself in everything that UVA has to offer and be a part of something bigger than just a 1,000-person high school,” Rantas said.

Caroline Kehoe

Hometown: Winchester, Virginia

Kehoe, carrying the white rose given to all new students by the Seven Society, said she was excited to meet her new classmates and get started on her classes.

“I am looking forward to taking in-depth classes in business, which is what I really want to study here,” she said.

Jaden Perini-Anderson

Hometown: Richmond, Virginia

Perini-Anderson said that he hoped his new classes would help him hone his time-management skills and build a strong work ethic.

“I am also really excited to join the club volleyball team and just explore intramural sports, generally,” he said.

Savana Avilla

Hometown: Phoenix, Arizona

Avilla, a member of UVA’s varsity softball team, has a busy semester ahead as she begins new classes and practices with her new team.

“I am a little bit nervous, but I am ready to start my education,” she said. “This is a very different environment for me, and I am looking forward to meeting more people.”

Malia Valentine

Hometown: Yorktown, Virginia

Valentine anticipated that the workload at UVA would be much heavier than what she was accustomed to in high school, but said she was excited for it nonetheless.

“I want to have new experiences and challenge myself in a way that I could not in high school,” she said.

Walter James Buzzini V

Hometown: San Antonio, Texas

Buzzini already has at least one extracurricular activity in mind: He hopes to join one of the many a cappella groups on Grounds. Other than that, he said, he is eager to see what else he discovers at UVA.

“It’s a community of trust and a community that I think is very strong,” he said. “I am excited to see how it will make me a better person.”

LaDan Nemati

Hometown: Clifton, Virginia

Nemati expects that UVA will be very different from the small school she attended since kindergarten.

“I am ready to see what a big school has to offer,” she said. “It will definitely be more fast-paced, and I think I will become more independent and gain new skills like time management.”

Ada Garvis

Hometown: Eastern Shore, Virginia

Garvis said she was excited to move to a bigger school and a bigger city after growing up in a small town on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

“I am looking forward to meeting new friends and being somewhere with so many things to do,” she said.

Eric Gui and Josh Herman-Ackah

Hometown: Beijing, China and Chantilly, Virginia, respectively

UVA Today caught up with these new roommates at Opening Convocation. Gui said he was ready to explore everything his new home has to offer.

“I’m excited about everything,” he said. “I want to get out of my comfort zone, and talk to lots of different people.”

Herman-Ackah joked that UVA would probably improve his wardrobe (both he and Gui donned suits for Convocation) and said he was eager to meet people from many backgrounds.

“I am excited about meeting different types of people, like my new roommate from China here. I’ve never met someone who grew up in a different country,” he said. “I also hope I’ll learn more about leadership and take opportunities when I see them.”

Ashley Nguyen

Hometown: Loudoun County, Virginia

Nguyen, from Northern Virginia, said her dad is a big Virginia Tech fan who joked about moving his daughter to UVA.

“It’s a big change for all of us,” she said, laughing. “I am ready to find my little niche in this community, to be in an environment with so many intellectual people and to meet lots of new people.”

Sam Owens

Hometown: Utica, New York

Owens joked about missing favorite foods – especially the pizza – from her hometown in upstate New York, but said she was eager to adapt to her new city and school, and to become a UVA sports fan.

“UVA is a much bigger school than I am used to, so I think that will be an adjustment,” she said. “But I’m really excited about it.”

Lalia Al Rawi

Hometown: Leesburg, Virginia

Like many of her classmates, Rawi already had her eye on at least one activity on Grounds. She wants to join an intramural lacrosse team.

“I’m really looking forward to that,” she said. “I am also just excited to meet new friends and have a bit more freedom.”

Dan Battillo

Hometown: Long Island, New York

Coming to UVA as an out-of-state student, Battillo said he is looking forward to meeting his classmates from around Virginia and from other states and countries.

“I think I will learn a lot about myself and how I handle the stresses and pressures of living on my own,” he said.

Cameryn Fischer

Hometown: Purcellville, Virginia

Fischer said she is eagerly anticipating the start of classes.

“I’m looking forward to figuring out what college classes are all about,” she said. “I think I will learn a lot about time management. It will be a bit of a transition, coming from high school where most people were on similar schedules.”

Sean McGovern and Austin Katstra

Hometown: Charlottesville, Virginia

Katstra and McGovern were friends growing up in Charlottesville and are now roommates at UVA. Both said they were excited to be a part of a school that they had observed for a while. Katstra is a walk-on recruit with the UVA men’s basketball team and McGovern said he was excited to cheer him on.

“I think we will have a lot more freedom here, and I’m excited to explore a different environment than what I am used to Charlottesville,” McGovern said.

Jasmine Mao

Hometown: Hamilton, Virginia

Mao, who plans to campaign for a position with her class’s First Year Council, said she is ready for the semester to get underway so that she can get into a routine.

“Everything right now is a bit overwhelming, so I am excited for things to begin to feel more normal as I figure out my routine and schedule,” she said. “I think this is one of the only times in my life that I will live this close to my peers for such a long period of time, and I think that will really expand my borders and push me in the best way.”

Media Contact

Caroline Newman

Senior Writer and Assistant Editor of Illimitable Office of University Communications