I absolutely love the beginning of classes. Don’t get me wrong, you never want to wish your summer away, but as the calendar turns to the month of August, you can’t help but feel the level of energy and excitement rise in Morgantown as we begin welcoming our students back for the fall semester. For our returning students, it means reuniting with friends and classmates as they continue their journey to becoming WVU alumni. For first-year students, it is the beginning of a new and important chapter in their lives. It starts with move-in weekend and continues through Welcome Week and the first days of navigating the buildings and conquering the many steps of the Downtown and Evansdale campuses. Don’t worry, I promise you’ll eventually get used to it!
To this day, when I recall the moments I experienced during move-in weekend and the first few weeks of classes, the feeling of excitement and anticipation I felt as an eighteen-year-old freshman, return. I’m sure many of our alumni can relate. There’s something about that first week on campus that you’ll never forget or experience again during your college days and beyond. The energy and the feeling of adventure forever influences our fond recollections of the first days as a college student.
I can vividly remember the build up to my freshman year after graduating from high school. I was raised in a family of Mountaineers and could not wait for my own WVU journey to begin. I lived with a high school classmate, and quickly made friends with others on my residence hall floor. I also reconnected with some folks I met at new student orientation. I joined a fraternity which immediately helped to expand my network even further. Some may call WVU a large institution. My experience, as I became part of the campus community, was the opposite. Each individual I met made it feel like a much smaller place. And that continued as I met their friends, and their friends' friends. It was immediately clear to me that I had made the right college choice and that WVU was going to be an important part of my life moving forward. I'm proud to say that I maintain most of the relationships to this day that were created during my first moments as a WVU student.
As with all special moments and memories related to WVU, every alum has their own unique story to tell. This month, I asked the team at the WVU Alumni Association about their own first campus moments. Each story is special and unique in its own way, reflecting the breadth of diverse experiences WVU has to offer each of our students and staff - spanning decades. Here are a few that were shared:
“I’ll always treasure the first time I visited the Wise Library at West Virginia University. There is a special sense of tradition that can be felt in its many spaces, large and small, that always seems to encourage curiosity and exploration. As a professional on campus, it continues to be a place of comfort and reflection for me.”
Meridith Balas (‘20, PhD)
Executive Director of Alumni Engagement
“I arrived on campus the first week of August, starting my freshman year a few weeks early to work preseason camp as a student manager for the WVU football team. My initial assignment that year was to assist with the special teams players, so my first practice was my introduction to fellow freshman, and relatively unknown kicker, Pat McAfee. The experiences I had during those first few weeks in town helped make me comfortable on campus well before I moved into Towers and began taking classes. In the years to come, I would make some of my best life memories and some of my best friends on Mountaineer Field and in the team facilities, which became my second home.”
Geoff Coyle (‘09)
Director of Volunteer Engagement
“When I started as a freshman at WVU, I was not sure I would stay here after my first year. I moved to Morgantown in the seventh grade and when I graduated from University High School, I was determined to leave town for college. After reconsidering WVU for many reasons, I decided to give it a try for at least a year. The first semester of my freshman year changed the trajectory of my life and I fell in love with West Virginia University and being a Mountaineer. I met so many wonderful people and made lifelong friends in those early days of English 101, Journalism 101, and so many others, and I still hold those friendships and this very special place, close to my heart. I fell in love with WVU so much that the following summer, I decided to become an orientation leader for New Student Orientation so I could welcome new freshmen and share my love of WVU and my experience with the incoming class. I also made so many wonderful life-long friends as a NSO leader, several of which I have recently reconnected with since coming back to WVU.”
Jessica McGee (‘07, ‘09)
Director of Marketing and Communications
In just a few days, we will excitedly begin an especially vibrant Welcome Week experience for our new students. This year’s class will bring new ideas, perspectives and passions to each of our campuses. For those of you who have graduated more than decade ago, you might be surprised to learn of the activities that are now available to current students during Welcome Week. From cookouts to concerts and from community service to outdoor adventure, there’s something for everyone to enjoy, and it’s the perfect way to set the tone for a year of learning inside and outside of the classrooms at West Virginia University. If you’d like to see the full schedule of events, you can visit the Welcome Week website. For those with a current student at WVU, be sure to remind them of the many opportunities on campus by forwarding the link! You may also see our Alumni Association team out on campus during Welcome Week welcoming our future alumni. If you do, please be sure to say hello!
And don’t worry, if you are feeling envious that current students are having all of the fun as the semester begins, don’t fret, we’ve got you covered! We’re counting down the days until our 27th Annual Marmaduke H. Dent Benefit on September 15th at The Erickson Alumni Center. If you’re local to Morgantown or traveling in for the Backyard Brawl the next day, make plans to join us for one of our biggest events of the year! Enjoy food, drinks, live entertainment, a silent auction and much more! You can learn more on our webpage. Purchase your tickets and help us support programs for students and alums throughout the year! I hope to see some of you there.
As we begin the 2023-24 school year, there will be many opportunities for alumni to remain engaged with our alma mater. One of the best ways to show your support is by becoming a member of the Alumni Association to help support programming for alumni around the country and current students right here on the Morgantown campus. Thank you for providing your time, talent or treasure to support generations of Mountaineers to come.
Kevin Berry ('94, '95)
WVU Vice President of Alumni Relations
CEO of the WVU Alumni Association, Inc.