Volunteers Give Freshmen a Warm Campus Welcome on Move-in Day

UT Dallas Freshman Move-In Day

Student volunteers help move freshmen into their new home at Residence Hall West. The average unloading time for each vehicle was about four minutes.

Before freshman Michaela Gulasy even settled in to her new room at Residence Hall West, she had already bumped into other UT Dallas students majoring in arts and technology.

Gulasy, from Tulsa, Oklahoma, said she’s not used to having fellow students share her career aspiration. She hopes to land an animation job someday at Dreamworks or Pixar where her name might appear in end-of-movie credits “that no one sees.”

“I was the only person in my high school who wanted to work in animation. It’s strange to talk to so many people here who are interested in it,” Gulasy said.

Gulasy was among nearly 600 freshmen who showed up for Move-In Day on Aug. 20 at Residence Hall West, the newest and largest of the University’s five residence halls. About 4,700 UT Dallas students are living on campus this year in apartments and residence halls, a 15 percent increase over a year ago.

Michaela Gulasy (center), an ATEC major, stops for a photo with her mom, Terri, and dad, Dennis.

Michaela Gulasy (center), an arts and technology freshman, made the trip from Tulsa, Oklahoma, with mom Terri and dad Dennis.

Residence Hall West is dedicated to students in Living Learning Communities (LLCs), groups of freshmen who live in the same wing and take classes together in pre-health, arts and technology, engineering, computer science and business.

That means students including Gulasy have like-minded peers as soon as they set foot on campus.

Daniel Rodrigues, from Austin, was particularly glad to learn that students in arts and technology, his secondary academic interest, are living near his computer science wing.

“The LLCs are right next to each other, so we’ll work together,” Rodrigues said. “It’ll be good.”

New freshmen settled in quickly, thanks to student volunteers clad in green T-shirts who pushed carts filled with bedding, TVs, computer screens, small fridges, bookshelves, lamps and clothes.

Among the popular items students brought from home were mattress toppers and Keurig coffee makers, said volunteer Forrest Talburt, a computer science senior.

Daniel Rodrigues

Daniel Rodrigues, with parents Jerry and Fiona, likes how the Living Learning Communities are organized at Residence Hall West. The computer science major will be living near students in arts and technology, his second academic interest.

“It’s interesting to see what people move in. Last year I even saw some lightsabers,” Talburt said.

Using staggered arrival times, students checked in each hour. Thanks to the volunteers helping to unpack cars, the average unloading time for each vehicle was about four minutes. 

“This is wonderful,” said Terri Gulasy, Michaela’s mom. “This has been the easiest move-in we’ve seen.”

Matt Grief, associate vice president for Student Affairs, said staff worked hard to make sure parents and students had little to do on their move-in day.

“At UT Dallas, we feel this special touch of customer service makes the transition much easier,” Grief said. “It was enjoyable to see so many students excited to be moving on campus, and even more heartwarming to see all the parents sending off their children to begin the next step in their lives.” 

Faculty mentors for Living Learning Communities greeted new arrivals in the residence hall lobby, where photo booths let families capture their new college students’ leaving-home experience.

The Pompeys

Biology freshman Imani Pompey arrived at UT Dallas with grandmother Gloria Gillard (left), mom Patsy and dad Anthony. “As a parent, you have to do it, to let them fly. But I will miss her greatly,” Patsy Pompey said.

“Our faculty members are such a resource. They’re breaking down barriers,” said Mary Jane Partain, director of Living Learning Communities. “The LLC philosophy is to create a holistic environment. What we want is for the students to have a relationship with faculty outside the classroom.”

Jeanne Johnson was feeling bittersweet after driving from Austin with her husband, Brian, to drop off their daughter, Jocelyn, a computer science freshman.

“I’m a little numb. I’m excited for her, and this is a great campus. It’s a good fit for her. But I’m going to miss her,” she said.

Patsy Pompey of Houston chose to be philosophical about dropping off her only child, Imani, a biology freshman who said she chose UT Dallas for its size and the fact it’s in the University of Texas System.

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“Like an eagle, you’ve got to send them off to soar,” Pompey said. “As a parent, you have to do it, to let them fly. But I will miss her greatly.”

As biomedical engineering freshman Sabrina LaGasse unpacked her belongings, she was surprised to find that a roommate who grew up in the Dallas area had left a supply of paper towels for her new suitemates. LaGasse and her family had flown in from Seattle.

“Everyone has been so friendly and helpful,” said Mark LaGasse, Sabrina’s father. “When we saw the carts outside we thought, ‘These guys have done this before.’ It really says a lot about the school.

“The campus and this building are so beautiful. This place is amazing. If she ever complains, we know she’s lying.”

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].