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‘I’ve been working for this my whole life’: McDaniel welcomes freshmen in dorms for move-in day

Keon Samuel of Baltimore stepped out of the car at McDaniel College and headed for the Gill Center on Thursday. A bright green carpet led from the curb to the building where arches of balloons and Capri Savoy awaited him.

“How are you? Moving in?” asked Savoy, the head resident assistant for independent housing. “Alright, you can follow this green path right here and they’re going to help you out.”

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Samuel and about 500 other members of the Class of 2025 spent the day moving into their new homes as McDaniel College welcomed first time Green Terror students.

After Samuel checked in, he said he’s looking forward to learning, trying new things and meeting new people.

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“I’ve been working for this my whole life,” he said. “There’s really nothing to be nervous for. I’m ready for anything.”

McDaniel’s move-in process this year looked more like that which existed prior to the pandemic. The only difference was the mask-wearing, the submission of vaccination proof and a negative COVID test result. It’s submitted to staff in the Gill Center before they are given their key.

Masks must be worn in most campus buildings and students must be vaccinated by Sept. 1. Students who are not fully vaccinated nor received an exemption from the vaccine may be subject to disciplinary action, registration holds or even asked to leave, according to the college’s website. Masks are required indoors but not inside residence halls after students move in. All non-vaccinated students are required to undergo weekly testing.

Classes are back to being in-person this fall and the move-in process is no longer a six-day process.

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“It’s going to be a big change,” Kielin Huff of Waldorf said about starting college. “Maybe it hasn’t hit me yet. I think when they leave it’ll hit me.”

He was standing with is family in the Gill Center. His mom, Angela, said she’s going to cry when he leaves. But his younger brother, Connor, said he’s ready for him to go.

“I’m going put my desk and extra stuff in his room,” he added.

His dad, Quentin Metzgar, complimented the move-in process and called it organized.

Volunteer students and staff wearing yellow shirts that said “move-in crew” were carrying luggage for the incoming freshmen.

President Julia Jasken said the move-ins were going smoothly and noted the health and safety protocols they have in place although they are “hoping things return to normal.

“They’re excited to be here. They are looking forward to the semester,” said Jasken, who became the 10th president of the 154-year-old institution on June 1.

Unpacking in his new room at Rouzere Hall was Elijah Smith of Waldorf and his family. Smith, who will be studying computer science and playing basketball at McDaniel, said he’s looking forward to being part of the Westminster college’s community.

His parents, Alicia and Malcolm, were impressed with the move-in experience so far. Malcolm said he hopes his son maximizes his college experience and realizes four years goes by fast.

While he’s a little concerned about COVID-19, Malcolm said he was pleased to know that nearly all students are vaccinated.

“I was happy about the fact that if something happens they keep that line of communication open,” Malcom said about McDaniel.

Cheryl Knauer, director of public relations at the college, said 98% of McDaniel students are vaccinated. However the vaccine is not required for faculty and staff, and 20% of this group was not vaccinated as of Thursday.

Knauer said the vaccine is only strongly encouraged among faculty and staff, but noted that they are still receiving vaccine updates.

Over in Whiteford Hall, the other freshman dorm, Rebecca Bentum of Burtonsville said she looks forward to starting her major, criminal justice. Her older sister, Patrina, said she was a little sad that her sister was moving out “because I’m not going to get to bother her as much,” she added.

Rebecca said it wasn’t something she was going to miss. But Patrina disagreed.

Down the hall was Evie Marrow who was unpacking with her parents and her aunt. Morrow, who’s from Houston, said she came 22 hours away after seeing how friendly and helpful the people at McDaniel were when she first visited.

Her mom, Kendall, also said the scholarship money was a key factor. Her daughter received the Educator’s Legacy Scholarship since Kendall is a teacher.

“The scholarship they gave her made it worthwhile,” Kendall said about being a teacher.

Evie, who was sporting a McDaniel T-shirt, said she’s excited to start her classes as an education major, meeting new people and about the way the college is handling the pandemic.

“Because in Texas, they don’t have any mandates,” she added.

Like other families, Evie’s mom said she’s going to be sad to have an empty nest since Evie is the youngest of five. But both her parents are happy she’s attending.

Though her father, Thomas, was critical of the how hot it was inside, he praised the financial generosity of the school and noted how not all private schools are challenging to afford.

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