JACKSON, Tenn. – Aug. 29, 2005 – Like most incoming freshmen, Amanda Johnson was excited as she unpacked her belongings and arranged her dorm room for the first time.
Specifically, Johnson was looking forward to two things.
“I like to meet new people. It makes my life fun,” she said. “And karate. That’s going to rock.”
Her parents, on the other hand, didn’t necessarily share her enthusiasm.
“They’re about to have a nervous breakdown,” Johnson said. “I’m the baby. I’m leaving.”
Johnson, a freshman from McLeansboro, Ill., was one of about 400 new students who moved into their dorm rooms Aug. 27 during Union University’s annual Freshman Move-In Day. University faculty, staff and returning students all pitched in to help the new students and their families unload their vehicles and get settled into their new life on campus.
“People don’t expect it,” Tim Smith, dean of the School of Nursing, said about all the help available to students and their families. “And I think that’s the nice thing, and that’s what we’re about – being a servant.”
It was Smith’s first time to participate in the annual event, as he started at Union in January.
“It’s nice to see the excitement, not only from these students and their families, but also from the faculty, the administrators and the staff,” Smith said.
For Doug Walker, of Louisville, Ky., bringing his daughter Elizabeth to college was bittersweet, especially since she is the last of his children to leave home.
“Children should never grow up and go to college,” he said. “We’re so excited about where she’s coming, so that makes a big difference.”
Lisa Whiffen, an enrollment counselor at Union, said the day was especially satisfying for her.
“For me, this is my first class of kids to move in,” Whiffen said. “Just to see them all here, it’s just like the perfect end for this whole year of working with them.”
After a day of unpacking, the new students and their families gathered in the G.M. Savage Memorial Chapel for a worship service and a final farewell. Todd Brady, minister to the university, challenged the students to place God at the center of their college experience.
“If you come to Union University and you excel in everything but you do not know God, then you have wasted your time here,” Brady said. “If you don’t know God, you don’t know much.”
Brady added that pleasing God is the greatest thing the students can do with their lives.
“Unless you live your life to the glory of God, your life will be a series of meaningless and mundane activities that leave your soul empty and hollow,” he said.
At the conclusion of the service, the incoming students sat in the middle of the chapel, while parents, returning students and Union faculty and staff encircled them. Union University President David Dockery then led in prayer for students and their families.