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Linda Herndon of Wilson rolls an overnight bag into Jarvis Residence Hall during her son’s orientation. Herndon enjoyed staying on campus close to all activities. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

Parents and students stay in dorms during orientation   

June 27, 2012

By Crystal Baity
ECU News Services

Linda Herndon jumped at the chance to stay overnight in an East Carolina University dorm during her son’s orientation.

This is the first year that ECU offered parents that option during new student orientations being held in two-day sessions through mid-July.

Herndon graduated from Atlantic Christian College but lived off campus while taking classes.

“I wanted to get the entire experience, plus the convenience of it with all the activities going on,” said Herndon, of Wilson. “I’m really glad I stayed on campus.”
During a break June 18, Herndon carried her overnight bag to the second floor of Jarvis Residence Hall. The room was comfortable and centrally located to all sessions. Her son, Robert Cunningham, stayed in Fletcher, where he will be living this fall. “It’s the dorm he ultimately will be in,” she said. “He got a feel for what to expect next year.”
Rising freshman Robert Cunningham and his mother Linda Herndon of Wilson talk outside new student orientation June 18 at ECU. Cunningham is an intended engineering major and will live in Fletcher Residence Hall this fall.

Some parents like Bardeen Forman of Charlotte had arrived a day early because of the distance from their home. She toured campus for the first time with her daughter, 18-year-old Duvall Forman, an intended elementary education major, who stayed in Fletcher.

“I’m glad they offered the service,” Bardeen Forman said. “It was economical and close to everything.”

Duvall Forman visited several schools but instantly connected at ECU. “It just seemed perfect,” she said. She knew of the College of Education’s rich history at ECU and eventually hopes to pair her interest in art with teaching. She’s working this summer at the Harris YMCA in Charlotte and is looking forward to starting classes in August. “I’d come tomorrow,” she said. “I’m excited to take that step.”

She hoped to learn more during orientation so she would be less nervous about her first day.

“I’m hoping they can ease me into it,” she said. “They’ll talk with us about everything we have questions about so that’s a good feeling.”

Louis Cameron, an orientation assistant from Elizabeth City, said he and other assistants are there to help students adjust.

“They’re always worried, but the students get used to it very quick,” said Cameron, who was voted most valuable orientation assistant at an earlier session.

Tammy Hunt of Mooresville accompanied her daughter, Kaitlyn, 17, who plans to major in nursing. Hunt, whose 19-year-old son attends UNC-Greensboro, didn’t sleep well in Jarvis the first night. “But it served its purpose. It’s more affordable than staying in a hotel,” she said.

Kaitlyn Hunt will be living in Fletcher this fall in the first year experience program, one of several living-learning communities and theme housing available at ECU. “I’m hoping to meet a lot of people,” she said. “I want to get to know campus.”

During the formal welcome in Wright Auditorium, ECU Provost Marilyn Sheerer encouraged parents to give their sons or daughters freedom to make their own decisions and become more independent in college. 
“I’ve heard bizarre stories of parents still calling a student every morning to get them out of bed to go to class,” she said. “So students, buy an alarm clock and practice this summer if you’re still relying on parents to get you up.”

She advised students to put academics first even though there are many activities and ways to get involved on campus. “You’ve got to focus on doing very well your very first semester,” Sheerer said.

She also asked students to get out of their comfort zone and meet people different than themselves. Future employers are looking for team players, she said. 

Although rising freshman Robert Cunningham has been on campus many times with friends and family, being a student at ECU will be a huge change from his private high school, Greenfield School in Wilson, where he was one of 15 graduates.

“It’s going to be way different,” said Cunningham, 17, an intended engineering major. “But we don’t want to wait two months. We’re ready to come now.”  

Tammy Hunt and daughter Kaitlyn of Mooresville visit campus during new student orientation June 18. Kaitlyn Hunt plans to major in nursing at ECU.

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