For many people, going away to college is one of the most life-changing experiences that they may face.
Going through those motions of saying goodbye to loved ones, and taking on daily tasks in a university setting is not an easy thing to do.
However, doing it in the middle of a pandemic is unlike anything we could have imagined.
With great effort, Mercyhurst kept its gates open; and with many precautions and changes, we were able to return home to Hurst and take on an exciting semester like no other.
For many students, it was a refreshing feeling to be back at the Hurst. For the class of 2024, they were introduced to university life, and we could not be any happier to have them finally here.
Traditional welcome week events that are typically held in the D’Angelo Performing Arts Center had to be adapted in unique and safe ways for our new freshmen.
In a world without COVID, the freshmen would be getting to know each other all at once at large outdoor events held specifically for the freshmen such as “Casino Night.”
This year, freshmen students were placed into “pods” based on residence hall room assignments.
Students had to remain in these pods, and could not freely mingle as they usually would.
In these pods, the Class of 2024 was able to take part in the Mercyhurst service tradition by creating videos for Diehl Elementary to welcome them back to school, as a safe alternative to the typical Freshman Day of Service.
They also had live Zoom calls with traditional Welcome Week figures such as David Coleman, Curtis Zimmerman, and Keith Karkut.
To kick-off Welcome Week, all students were welcomed to their residence halls with Mercyhurst welcome kits.
The kits included Mercyhurst themed masks, a thermometer, a few disposable masks and some hand sanitizer.
Following the big move, upper-level students were able to adapt to the new and adapted Mercyhurst for the semester, while first-year students were involved in various pandemic-friendly activities.
While this was not the Welcome Week most of us are familiar with, I know that I am grateful to be back on campus and attending classes.
Attending classes in-person and being able to see everyone again has been great.
As a Laker Leader, I was able to be on the other side of the events this year.
While it was a challenge, it was all worth it to see how the freshmen class interacted with our unique activities this year.
I can remember what it was like to move away to Mercyhurst this time last year, and with how interesting this year has been, I am grateful to have been allowed to provide the Class of 2024 with a Welcome Week experience that I hope they never forget.