Downtown businesses in Westminster and the city’s mayor will welcome the incoming class at McDaniel College on Saturday, Aug. 24, as the whole group of about 600 students makes its way downtown.
The group will start out at the college and walk together down the street to the lawn of the Westminster branch of the Carroll County Public Library. There, Westminster Mayor Joe Dominick, College President Roger Casey, Greg Brock of Atlas Premier Realty, library Branch Manager Christina Kuntz, and Tiombe Paige, owner of Cultivated.
The event is in its second year.
Associate Dean of Campus and Community Engagement Josh Ambrose said the idea is to make the students feel comfortable downtown and to strengthen the engagement both ways between city and college.
When he first came to the college as a staff member, he said there was a noticeable distance between Westminster and the college community. Reaching out, he found people on both side wanted to change that. Adding the downtown Westminster welcome to the first-year orientation schedule is one of those ways.
After the welcome at the library, the students will be treated to complimentary treats from The Cow and Kona Ice of Carroll County, sponsored by Atlas Premier Realty and Dominick’s company Gauge Digital Media.
Next stop is the city’s farmer’s market, which runs Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon and then an hour to wander around downtown where many businesses have decorated and will have special offers.
Dominick, who is an alum of the college himself, said that when he was a freshman, he didn’t necessarily venture downtown or know what was there. It can be easy to stay isolated when everything you need is on campus, and it might take several months to find out what’s available downtown.
“It gives everyone a chance to meet everyone,” he said.
In addition to engaging students, Ambrose said that they have networks of parents and friends who will visit and tangentially become part of the community. When they visit, the hope is that they “don’t drive up 140, park and then leave,” he said.
Paige said she and her neighbors in the Winchester Exchange have several deals and activities available from free espresso to corn hole games. She hopes it will give them a change to explore a different part of Main Street they maybe didn’t think they could.
The focus Saturday is to expose them to elements within a student’s budget, like cafes with free Wi-Fi or reasonably priced tacos, “things that capture their attention without overwhelming them,” she said.
For Cultivated, a college student might not even be her customer, she said. But the idea is to forge relationships and look ahead, maybe to when that student has graduated and is buying clothes for their first professional job. Even though McDaniel College is practically on Main Street in Westminster, most don’t see it as a college town, she said.
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Saturday’s welcome is “not even about monetary business," she said, “but weaving the fabric of community so it’s more diverse, has more layers to it."