Welcome to Grounds! The UVA Class of 2025 Moves In to Dorms

Welcome to Grounds! The UVA Class of 2025 Moves In to Dorms

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Two University of Virginia students, first-year Emily Eppard and Hamza Aziz, a new resident adviser, met this summer by serendipity – on a skydiving adventure. They were waiting in different groups when Aziz heard Eppard mention UVA. He introduced himself and they discovered they’d both be living in Gooch House.

It sounds like a promising portent of the adventure to come – with their feet on Grounds. Added to that, although the sky unleashed a torrential downpour on students and their families moving in early Wednesday morning, it cleared up within the hour (leaving only the humidity). University Greeters – volunteers who helped the new students haul their belongings inside – and RAs broke into song when the rain subsided.

Eppard walked up to Gooch for the first time Wednesday, and Aziz was the first person she saw, stationed at the welcome table to meet the arriving students. Since they had gone on different skydiving flights, they quickly began comparing notes about their thrilling jumps.

“I’d do it again in a heartbeat,” Eppard, a Louisa native, said of skydiving in Orange. For now, however, she is ready for the full UVA experience, she said.

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A heavy downpour challenged students and families moving in Wednesday morning, but subsided pretty quickly. (Photo by Dan Addison, University Communications)

Aziz, from Ashburn, added that he feels more in common with these first-year students because, as a second-year student, he had missed the move-in experience in-person last year due to the pandemic.

Greeter Matthew Tucker, a second-year student majoring in history and politics, was glad to be able to help students this year after not moving in his first year. “I can give them smiles even from behind the mask,” he said outside Echols House.

Resident adviser Kiyan Zewer said he was happy to trade his online training last year for working with the RA team in person this year. “I feel like we’re making bonds already,” said the computer science major.

Other coincidences popped up in the halls of Echols House.

Anson Dao of Herndon found out that he knew his roommate, Evan Xu. They had gone to the same elementary school, but different high schools, so they hadn’t seen each other for a while.

Though soaked from the rain, Dao took a moment before changing out of his UVA T-shirt from the 2019 NCAA men’s basketball championship to say he always had the University in mind for college. His father, an alumnus, traveled to see the Cavaliers win that game two years ago. Dao, who had been a manager for his high school basketball team, said he’s looking forward to the new opportunities to make his own UVA experience.

At a welcome event this summer organized by alumni in Savannah, Georgia, incoming first-year Garrett Squire met a second-year student who was among the first people he saw on the Corner after he and his parents arrived Tuesday.

Squire, from St. Simon’s Island, Georgia, broke from the family pack to attend UVA instead of University of Georgia, where his two older sisters went, but he and his parents were impressed with the University, they said. His parents – empty-nesters now – were a little sad, especially about the nine-hour drive, but excited for Garrett to have new adventures, they said.

The first visit to Charlottesville in April was “amazing,” Squire said. Excited to make a fresh start, he was waiting to meet his roommate from Houston, who hadn’t arrived yet.

This year’s incoming Class of 2025 hails from 51 states and territories and 48 countries, according to preliminary data from the Office of Undergraduate Admission. Of the 3,919 enrolled, 56% are female, 37% are students of color and 13% have become the first generation in their families to attend college.

Students continued to move in all day Wednesday and Thursday in scheduled shifts.

Courtesy of “Wahoo Welcome” orientation programming, they had the opportunity to attend several events right off the bat, from hearing President Jim Ryan and other University administrators give welcome remarks on both afternoons to going on a “Newcomb Hall crawl” to learn about student groups and activities located there. On Thursday, several deans held welcome receptions, and a mandatory “Grounds for Discussion” event featured upper-class students performing skits highlighting issues such as roommate disagreements, drinking, eating disorders, sexual assault and upholding the honor code. Resident advisers led follow-up conversations with the new students.

Garrett Squire, from St. Simon’s Island, Georgia, got help from his parents while moving into Echols House. (Photo by Dan Addison, University Communications)

Another Echols resident, Ellie Nystrom – not exactly a common name – didn’t know there’s an English professor here with the same last name: Debra Nystrom, who teaches poetry in the Creative Writing Program. When told the poet is from the Midwest, Ellie said that’s where her father grew up, so she wondered if they’re related.

Nystrom, who’s from Herndon, had visited the Grounds twice previously, taking an admissions tour before the pandemic, and said she was excited to dive into other languages and would be taking Korean, her mother’s ethnic background.

Her parents left her alone briefly after moving her stuff inside during the rainstorm. She said they had gone to buy something none of them had thought of – a mop.

Here are more snapshots from UVA’s Class of 2025 move-in on Wednesday and Thursday:

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