Class of 2021 arrives at Baylor, gears up for start of fall semester

Julia Vergara | Staff Writer

For many new students, two events kick off their Baylor experience: Move-In Day and Welcome Week—both of which serve to connect freshmen to the Waco and Baylor community.

Incoming Baylor freshmen and transfer students moved into the residence halls on Aug. 16 and 17, then participated in Welcome Week events throughout the rest of the week.

“Part of this idea of living in a community is something that is such a valuable experience and we want it to be positive so we’re going to help in every way that we can,” said Tiffany Lowe, director for Campus Living & Learning.

Lowe said that Baylor has a “well-oiled” system for move-in. Once students arrive at Baylor, hundreds of Move2BU volunteers consisting of faculty members, staff and students are there to help them move in.

The hundreds of volunteers helping with Move-In is a demonstration of what it means to be part of a community, Lowe said.

New Baylor President, Linda Livingstone also helped the incoming class move into their residence halls.

Livingstone said that she was unbelievably impressed with the system and how it reduces the stress of the students in such a welcoming and warm way.

“Being engaged with our students and spending time with our students is one of the most important things that I can do,” Livingstone said. “Doing that on welcome day is a great time to do that for our new students.”

After Move-In Day, Welcome Week kicked off with Festival at the Fountain—an event that showcases “the best of Baylor and the best of Waco,” Tripp Purks, assistant director of New Student Programs, said.

In order to showcase the best of what Waco has to offer at this event, New Student Programs partnered with different vendors and caterers throughout the community, Purks said.

“Anytime we think about putting an event together, we’re thinking about how this helps new students be authentically connected to the institution that’s going to be their home for the next four years,” Purks said.

Once Festival at the Fountain ended, new students had the chance meet with their small groups—a group that “journeys throughout Welcome Week together,” said Nathan Shelburne, director of New Student Programs.

Being in small groups serves to connect new Baylor students to each other as well as upperclassmen—which are their Welcome Week leaders. These groups are built in social and academic communities, Purks said.

Austin freshman Samantha Soto, said that it was good to have a group of people that she will be seeing more often rather than just being a “fish in a big tank”.

Shelburne said that new students, in general, have a mix of two strong emotions as they step out on their own for the first time: excitement and anxiety. Welcome Week leaders help students deal with both emotions before school even begins.

Lily Covey, a Welcome Week leader and Marion, Ill., junior, said welcome leaders are important because college is a big adjustment from high school.

“I think it’s important that as soon as freshmen hit campus, they have an upperclassman to show them the ropes and that way they know they have someone to trust right off the bat,” Covey said.

Purks said the end goal of Welcome Week is to warmly welcome all new students to their new home at Baylor, whether they are a first-year college student or a transfer student.

“Our department feels strongly that we have a critical role in helping each and every single student at Baylor feel like they belong here,” Shelburne said. “That this is their place and this is their home.”