Going Up | Eastern North Carolina Now | Collegiate journeys begin with move-in day at ECU

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
    Publisher's Note: This post appears here courtesy of ECU News Services. The author of this post is Ken Buday.

Freshman Faith Spencer gets help from family members as she moves into Ballard Hall. Spencer is majoring in social work and will be part of ECU's track team. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

    It took Sharon Justice a few extra stops on the elevator before she landed on the right floor to help her grandson move into Ballard Residence Hall on Tuesday at East Carolina University.

    "This makes for an interesting day," she joked as she rode the elevator up to the fourth floor before it came down to the second. "If this is the worst thing that happens to us today, we're doing good. You have to have a sense a humor."

    About 5,200 students will spend the next few days getting acclimated to campus living before the first day of class on Monday. Toting containers of clothes, pillows, lamps, assorted knick-knacks and other items to one of 15 residence halls was the first step in that process.

    For Sharon and Rocky Justice, they drove about 5 1/2 hours from Millsboro, Delaware, to help move their grandson, Ben Justice, in what is quickly becoming a family tradition.

    "This is the third time we've done this with our grandkids, and we'll have a couple more depending on where they go," Rocky Justice said.

    For Ben, a nursing major, he appreciated the help and is excited to get the fall semester started.

    "I like the atmosphere. Everyone seems really happy here. I just love everything," he said.

    Faith Spencer, a freshman from Morrisville who plans to major in social work, will be part of the ECU track team.

    "I'm just excited to be somewhere new," she said. "I'm looking forward to the social life and meeting new people."

    Her mother, Shawn Parker, said she had mixed emotions.

    "I'm sad and a little nervous, but I'm excited for her," she said.

    Despite some nervousness, Parker knows her daughter made a good choice to come to ECU after visiting the campus.

    "We met with the track and field coaches, and they were wonderful," Parker said. "They took us around and scheduled her with the School of Social Work for a visit, and then we visited with the athletic guidance counselor. They told us about the history of the school, and it was just a really, really good intimate visit."

    Cameron Edwards and his father Jeremy executed a flawless game plan on move-in day. They arrived early from Knightdale, efficiently loaded two carts from their car, went to the second floor of Umstead Hall and unloaded everything in about 10 minutes with the precision of an engineer, which is exactly what Cameron plans to be.

    "That's all my dad," he said. "He's good at packing everything."

    Taylor Owens, a freshman art major from Wake Forest, spent the morning moving into Garrett Hall.

    "I am absolutely ready for it (college)," Owens said. "I think college will be great for me. I'm most excited about hanging out with one of my friends who's a sophomore here."

    Jonathan Culverhouse hauled a cart full of items for his daughter Olivia into Ballard Hall, guiding it like a pro.

    "This is our second year. It seems old hat for us, but it's not quite old hat," he said.

    Olivia, a sophomore nursing major from Garner, will be a student mentor for the nursing Living Learning Community, which groups students with similar majors and interests in residence halls to help students with the transition to the university.

    "I'm excited to help the freshmen out and get them used to living in the dorms and being away from home," she said. "One of the reasons why I like ECU is because there are so many resources. There are great meal plans. There are great mental health services. Free tutoring in the library is a great thing."

    Dr. Virginia Hardy, ECU's vice chancellor for student affairs, stressed that students should take advantage of all the resources available to them, especially as it relates to health and well-being.

    "You do not have to do this by yourself. Don't do it alone," she said. "We have our counseling centers on campus. We have our advisors on campus. We have faculty and staff, and of course, our residential advisors who live within the halls of our residence halls. Reach out to those individuals and seek the help necessary.

    "I think there is strength in asking for help, whether you're asking for help in class to get some tutoring or whether you're asking for help with your psychological health and well-being or your physical well-being. Ask for help."

    While rules related to the COVID-19 pandemic have eased, ECU remains vigilant to potential health issues on campus, said Dr. LaNika Wright, associate vice chancellor of health and well-being, and the executive director of student health.

    Chancellor Philip Rogers greeted students moving in on Wednesday and even helped with some room decorating, hanging a Thor-like hammer for one student and helping set up a bed for another. He particularly noted the energy and excitement on campus.

    "I think this is probably one of my most favorite days on campus, maybe with the exception of commencement, because it reminds us of why we're here, why we're focused on student success and engaging in regional transformation activities and helping students move through an important moment in their lives when they get to gain an educational experience and go on a journey that will make them proud for a long time to come," he said.

    He noted that the university's four-year graduation rate has increased by 10 percentage points in the last decade, and that 90% of graduates surveyed reported that they had gained employment or gone on to graduate school within six months of graduating.

    "If you come to East Carolina University," he said, "you can bet on it being a good return on investment for your educational experience."
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