New Year, New ’Canes: Move-In Day Arrives at UM

With a new school year set to begin, UM welcomes a new class of ’Canes.

(August 21, 2013) — With suitcases, clothing, and boxes scattered about the floor of his Stanford Residential College dorm room, Michael Trethewey wasn’t thinking about the first day of classes or the textbooks he’ll have to purchase as he embarks on his journey as a University of Miami student.

“One of the first things I’ve got to learn is how to iron,” said the 18-year-old freshman, placing a stack of neatly folded T-shirts in a dresser drawer.

At Stanford Residential College, Michael Trethewey unpacks some of his clothes. The 18-year-old freshman is rooming with longtime friend Patrick Westwater.

Trethewey, who is from Boston and plans to major in business, was among the more than 1,900 freshmen moving onto UM’s Coral Gables campus on August 21, as a new school year is set to begin. In all, about 4,400 students were set to move into the five residential colleges this week—800 of them upperclassmen who live in the University Village Student Apartments.

While Trethewey’s concerns over ironing a proper crease in a pair of slacks might seem trivial, it’s just one of the many worries college freshmen often experience when living away from home for the first time in their lives.

“Being more on their own, having mom and dad around a lot less, and sharing a bedroom and bath for the first time are some of the challenges they face,” said Jon Baldessari, UM’s associate director of housing and residence life. “They’ll also have to deal with being academically and intellectually challenged and making decisions on their own.”

Anxiety over meeting and getting along with a roommate is one challenge many UM freshmen won’t experience. Over half of the incoming class used a UM online search program to select their roommates, with the rest “either identifying a roommate preference on their application or electing to have our assignment staff place them,” explained Baldessari.

For Trethewey, it was easy. He and Patrick Westwater, who have been close friends since high school, requested to be roommates on their freshman applications. “We texted each other a lot over the summer to work out the details of who would bring what,” said Westwater, 19. “I brought most of the electronics, and Mike, well, he brought the ironing board.”

As Sydney Zarriello, a freshman neuroscience major from Severna Park, Maryland, settled into her new digs on Wednesday, she admitted that she was she a bit “nervous” but “also excited” about starting college. “I’m sure I’ll be calling home a lot, even if it’s to talk for just a little while,” she said.

“Make smart decisions, Sydney,” her mother, Susan, told her.

Helping UM’s newest ’Canes adjust to campus life are resident faculty members who support and promote student well-being, safety, academic achievement, learning, and development. One of them, Daniel Wang, a senior lecturer in biology, stood Wednesday in the lobby of Stanford Residential College, welcoming students and parents as they checked in, many of them pushing carts loaded down with suitcases, flat-screen TVs and computers. Wang, an associate master at Stanford, explained that one of the ways he helps new students adjust to being away from home and living on a university campus is by taking them on tours of the Everglades to explain his research in the conservation of natural resources.

Rocky Pedroso, a director in UM Information Technology, helps freshman Erin Moncrief install anti-virus software on her laptop.

An online program aimed at improving student retention is also at the disposal of UM’s first-year students. MAP-Works, now in its third year, uses student reporting to identify obstacles to student success, allowing mentors, faculty, and staff to render the appropriate aid.

Classes on the UM campus begin August 26.

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Sydney Zarriello, a freshman neuroscience major from Severna Park, Maryland, gets help from her mom, Susan, while moving into Stanford Residential College on August 21.

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