Wet weather couldn’t dampen the feelings of excitement, anticipation and, above all, hope that abounded on Wesleyan University’s new student Arrival Day.
Over 900 students in the Class of 2025 – the second largest in Wesleyan’s history – as well as transfer students and students who deferred admission, moved in Wednesday morning. Many of this diverse group of young people from across the country and the globe navigated their entire application process through the complications of a global pandemic, demonstrating resilience in addition to intellectual and social acumen.
On this rainy morning, harnessing and shaping all of that nascent energy is a task for the future. As they moved into their dorms and said goodbye to their parents, the students’ minds were on new beginnings and, perhaps above all else, finding lasting friendships.
As she directed students to Clark Hall Wednesday morning, Anna Nguyen ’22 remembered her own Arrival Day three years ago.
Nguyen, an international student, had come to campus a few days before everyone else. “I remembered that I was alone, arriving at 8 p.m. But everyone was welcoming right away,” said Nguyen, who is now the Wesleyan Student Assembly president and works for the Office of Residential Life.
She called out to students walking toward their new home. “Welcome to Wesleyan,” she said. “Now I get to be that person,” Nguyen said.
Cars started pulling onto Andrus Field early in the morning. By 8:45 a.m. parents and students started the process of unloading. Current students helped parents wheel bins of necessities into the students’ dorm rooms—one mom had a plastic container of homemade cookies carefully perched on her kid’s boxes. The first rainy Arrival Day in over a decade was filled with anxious energy.
Pennsylvania resident Xzavier Pacheco ’25 felt good on his first day — he wasn’t nervous, at least not that he would say. He was excited to explore the freedom being at school offers and hoped that majoring in archaeology would feed his love of travel and history. “I just thought Wesleyan would be a good fit for me,” he said.
His mom, Bobbie Pacheco, did admit to a touch of nerves. Xzavier is her first child to go to college and their home in Pennsylvania is fairly far away. “I hope he can have a true college experience. I was already a mom when I went to college, so I hope he can be on campus and have that whole thing,” Pacheco said.
Nolan Lewis ’25 from Washington, D.C., was interested in what it would be like to have a roommate. He grew up as an only child and the prospect of living with people his own age is an exciting one. “It’s the same thing everyone is going to tell you—I’m excited and nervous. This is a new chapter,” Lewis said.
His mom Joy Rhoden Lewis ’92 already knew the ropes. Her own Arrival Day at Wesleyan wasn’t particularly eventful—her dad dropped her off at Foss Hill and she went down to Main Street later in the day to buy her first pair of jeans. “I made amazing friendships that I have to this day,” she said. “Wesleyan set me up for the kind of future I’ve enjoyed thus far.”
Over in Bennet Hall, Valeria Dianderas ’25 and Louisa Choi ’25 were already finishing each other’s sentences only a few minutes after meeting for the first time. The duo corresponded all summer long.
“We mainly talked about the dorm,” said Dianderas, a New Jersey native.
“How it would work in a triple, we talked a lot about that,” Choi said. “We talked about our schedules.”
Both young women were anxious to start meeting people and learning about campus life. “I am hoping to have a fresh start after high school,” said Choi, who arrived at Wesleyan from Hong Kong.
Just down the hall, Megan Arias ’25 and her mother Bridget were setting up her bed. Arias, a Waterbury, Conn. resident, hoped that Wesleyan’s open curriculum would give her a chance to sample new ideas. “I want to find what I am really passionate about,” Megan said. “I am hoping that I make some really close friends that I’ll have for a long time.”
Arias’ wish for herself, to find her passion, is just what President Michael Roth ’78 intends for every Wesleyan student. Ideally, Wesleyan should provide students the chance to discover what they love to do, opportunities to improve at that passion, and encouragement to share what they’ve learned, he said.
“I hope you discover new things that stir your soul. I hope you find new things that make you feel alive,” Roth told the new students during their welcome ceremony.
After a sleepy summer and a long period of limited activity due to COVID-19, the campus felt alive. A tour group gathered on Foss and watched parents and students unload. Usdan was busy again. Students lined up to collect their WesCards and their orientation packets, the first stop before moving into their dorms. Flyers went up on bulletin boards offering opportunities—come to the Silent Disco at Olin Library; karaoke is happening at Memorial Chapel; there is a Pride Reception in Usdan. Another sign urged the new students to “be who you are.”
Arrival Day 2021 was a day filled with energy and unbounded potential, a day where Wesleyan made a commitment to these students that this can be a place where they will meet ideas and people that will help them feel vital and more animated—to help positively shape their lives.
One hand-drawn poster, in particular, stood out. It hung from the second floor inside Usdan’s lobby—a drawing of a birdhouse with “2025” written around it – a reference to Wesleyan’s beloved Cardinal mascot.
“You are home,” the sign read.
Additional photos of new student arrival day are below and in this Wesleyan Flickr album. (Photos by Olivia Drake and Tom Dzimian)