Among the 3,800 first-year students who moved onto Grounds over Friday and Saturday are Ian Walk and Alexander Monaco, who now reside together in the McCormick Road residence halls. The roommates didn’t have to travel far for move-in – nor did their parents in helping them move in – they both live in Charlottesville. But of course, it is the first time they’ve been to college, and that’s always an exciting and nerve-wracking experience.
“I thought I wanted to move away to go to college, but UVA also had always been a possibility, and I realized that UVA would be good for me,” Walk said. He plans to study engineering. “I’m pretty nervous, and very hot, and I’ve got a lot of mixed feelings right now. But it’s a good feeling.”
It was a hot and humid Friday morning when he moved into his room. His dad, Scott Walk, a 1982 graduate of UVA who is a laboratory specialist in UVA’s Department of Microbiology, was helping with the move, and sweating as he tried to make fit a new shelving unit that wouldn’t quite fit. He said he’s “thrilled that Ian chose to become a Cav.”
“I’m excited about the transition he is experiencing, and the new life that is ahead for him,” he said.
Beth Monaco, Alexander’s mom, who was helping her son move in, is a Hokie, like Alexander’s father, but takes “comfort in him being close to home.”
“Everyone’s been so friendly and helpful,” she said. “I think this is the right place for Alexander. I told him last night that he can feel honored that he’s been accepted here. This is an exciting time, and we’re proud of him.”
He can be proud, too. More than 36,700 students applied to UVA – a record – and about 3,800 made it here as first years, including 455 first-generation students. Sixty-seven percent of first-year students are from Virginia. Forty-seven states are represented, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and 73 countries. Fifty-five percent of incoming students are female. And there are nearly 700 transfer students, more than half of them from the Virginia Community College System.
As for Alexander, like his roommate, he admits a bit of trepidation. “I’m nervous, and excited,” he said. “This is a completely new experience that will be very challenging, but I’m prepared for it.”
With a deep interest in space, he will major in astrophysics. “UVA is one of only a few universities to offer this major, so I’m glad to be here,” he said.
Welcoming the students to Grounds during move-in were numerous student “greeters,” well marked in Cavalier orange greeter T-shirts. Most of those shirts were soaked in sweat, as one of the big jobs of greeters is to help move stuff into the rooms. And they moved plenty of stuff.
“I had a great move-in experience myself because of the greeters who helped me when I came, and for me this is a way of paying it back,” said third-year economics major Matt Ohlson, as he headed out of a McCormick dorm for more stuff to bring in. “This is also a way to let the parents know their kids are in good hands. We’re saying it’s not only the faculty and administration welcoming the new students here, it’s also us upperclassmen.”
Bryce Rosenberg, a second-year student, who was working with Ohlson, felt the same way. “We’re making the first-years feel welcome,” he said. “We want them to feel at home right away, the way we felt when we came here.”
First-year student Anna Winter of Houston certainly feels welcome. Her dad’s a 1981 mechanical engineering grad, so she already knew that UVA would be welcoming, based on her father’s experience here. She will major in chemical engineering, with an eye toward a career working on renewable energy.
“There’s so much opportunity at UVA and the atmosphere is so positive,” she said. “We are called to be who we are here, while finding our own place.”
Frank Anello, a first-year from Chatham, New Jersey, who plans to study commerce, said he feels “bittersweet” about leaving his home and friends for the college experience, but like his cohorts, he’s ready, and knows he will make plenty of new friends. And his sister Julia, a fourth-year commerce student, is close by.
His mother Vicky Anello, who was helping him move in, said that she and her husband feel bittersweet as well, and now are empty-nesters. “We’ll really miss Frank, but we’re excited for him,” she said. “The University is such a great, unified community. There are so many opportunities here for learning and growth and making new friends.”
She’s also excited about continuing to make periodic trips to see both of her children. “Charlottesville is a great destination for parents,” she added.
On Friday and Saturday afternoon, President Teresa Sullivan welcomed the new parents during an address at Old Cabell Hall. She was joined by Executive Vice President and Provost Tom Katsouleas, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Pat Hogan, Dean of Students Allen Groves and Health System CEO Pamela Sutton Wallace.
Addressing the violent events of the weekend during the “Unite the Right” rally, Sullivan assured parents and students that UVA is committed to shared values of diversity, inclusion and respect.
“At UVA, we stand for education, open inquiry, and open mindedness,” she said. “… We stand with all members of the UVA family, as we stand together against the racist groups that seek to divide us.”
She said that safety is her top concern and promised that the University will “improve our preparation and response to emergencies; improve our safety and security efforts; and train our students and other community members how to stay safe.”
She also discussed the University’s bicentennial celebration, which will open with events on the weekend of Oct. 5 through 7.
“The bicentennial will be a time for us to look back at UVA’s past 200 years, but also, and perhaps more importantly, this is our moment to look forward.”
After offering tips to parents on how to let their children grow as college students, she told them, “Although you face mixed emotions today, more than anything this should be a day of celebration. Feel proud of your sons and daughters, and feel proud of yourselves for what you have done to bring them to this day. Moms and dads across the nation and around the world strive to help their children get admitted to the University of Virginia, and you succeeded. Congratulations.”