Hampton University


1,300 New HU Students Arrive to Warm Welcome

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It was raining the day freshman David Mitchem moved into his dorm at Hampton University in 2005, but the warm welcome he received from fellow students livened up his spirits.

"That (the rain) made it kind of dismal, but they were out here just like we're out here. That's one of the main reasons to do this, to give back in the same way," said Mitchem, now, a senior, referring to the several student leaders, sorority and fraternity groups welcoming new students into their dorms last month.

On the first move in day, Aug. 29, from the entrance at Tyler Street, to Virginia Cleveland Hall and Harkness Hall, HU students used energy, advice, cold water and muscle to help new students feel at home and ease the transition to college life.

HU had a six percent increase in the number of applications for the 2008-2009 school year compared to last year. About 1,200 freshman and 100 transfer students started their studies at HU Sept. 8.

Among them, was Dontrel Holland, who got some advice and company from his friend and HU Junior, Sharod Bowser. Bowser sat in a long, curving line outside Harkness Hall with Holland as he awaited check-in. Resident assistants handed out cold water to those standing in the sun.

"I just called him and asked if he needed any help," said Bowser, about keeping his friend company. "I'd advise [Holland] to keep an open mind. College is a whole lot different from high school … more responsibility."

Holland, 18, of Portsmouth, Va., said he's looking forward to making the most of his collegiate experience.

"I want to grab hold and use it to the best of my ability," he said, adding that his long-term goal is to become a certified public accountant.

Kerri Bonner, 18, has also set her sights on her long-term goals.

"I'm looking forward to meeting new people and graduating on time," said Bonner, of Long Island, N.Y., as she moved into Virginia Cleveland Hall.

While outside the dorm, Bonner, a nursing major, got a pep talk from HU student leader and senior Kasyida Briggins.

Bonner's mother, Janice, said she's glad her daughter chose HU. Her niece, Blaize Blackmon, is already a sophomore here.

"I want her to … become an independent young lady and do what she's suppose to do," Janice Bonner said.

Another nursing major, Aja Budd, heard about HU's nursing program and decided to head this way from her hometown in Philadelphia, Pa. Already a certified nursing assistant, the 18-year-old said she's looking forward to, "the new experience of being away."

And, students have come from far away lands to matriculate by the sea.

The top 10 states from whence students are coming are Virginia, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, California, Georgia, North Carolina, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

The top 10 majors are just as vast as students' hometowns: journalism and communications, undecided, biology, psychology, nursing, five-year MBA, pharmacy, political science, architecture and business management.

To keep students socially occupied before classes started, new student orientation activities ran from Aug. 29-Sept. 5. They included a "Making It At HU" talk, and a new student induction ceremony in Ogden Hall.

New curriculum offerings on campus this year include an aquatics concentration, worth 17 credits, offered by the health, physical education and recreation department. Also, the physical therapy department is again accepting applications for enrollment in the Spring 2009 semester. Applications are due Oct. 15.

HU Admissions Director Angela Boyd said she expects new students to have a well-rounded experience at HU.

"My expectations are that they will come in and become actively engaged in the life of the community here, and take advantage of the educational, cultural and social opportunities our college can afford them," she said.

There's also plenty of fun to be had on campus, said Patra Johnson, HU director of freshman studies.

"This is going to be a great year," she said. "We have some exciting things planned at our ‘Home by the Sea.'"

HU was founded in 1868 by Gen. Samuel Armstrong Chapman, and is led by Dr. William R. Harvey. The school has five doctoral programs, seven schools, and three colleges.
In 2007, the Princeton Review named HU one of the best 357 colleges in the nation.

This year, U.S. News and World Report ranked HU No. 24 among top Southern universities in the regional university category. The school is also one of America's top 50 colleges for wireless Internet capability.

With all HU has to offer, students need only take advantage of it.

"My hope is that they will grow and develop into productive citizens as a result of their educational experiences at HU," Boyd said.

-Leha Byrd