Barton College students Michaela Karriker and Sarah Gaskins help move freshman belongings into a residence hall Thursday. Drew C. Wilson | Wilson Times

August 16, 2018 Barton College welcomed a new class of freshmen Thursday to kick off its 2018 Welcome Weekend in Wilson.

“It’s always great for a new beginning for a new academic year and all of the students coming back to campus to do the things we enjoy and to do the things that are important to help young men and women to achieve their educational goals and to do so in a community of faith and in a very caring community,” said Douglas Searcy, president of Barton College.

Searcy was on hand to help students moving into a newly renovated Arthur D. Wenger Residence Hall.

“We are also extremely excited about this particular building,” said Chrissy Coley, vice president for student engagement and success. “Wenger Residence Hall was just renovated over the summer, so we are just thrilled about all of the great opportunities for our students both in and out of the classroom.”

Jeff Tilson, director of housing residence life, said the building has had a major facelift.

“We touched up a lot. We painted over everything, so everything’s fresh, new floors, new carpets, new furniture,” Tilson said. “We revamped the AC units so there are smart systems all over the place, so it is an energy saving system. It is just a really nice facility to have students in.”

Carla Joseph, a senior who is a resident assistant from Goldsboro, said she is hearing positive feedback from students.

“It also looks a lot nicer, so that’s awesome,” Joseph said. “So far, a lot of students are really hopped up about it.”

Michaela Karriker, a senior from Salisbury, was among an army of upperclassmen who helped freshmen move in their personal belongings.

Karriker advises all of them to get involved on campus.

“Feel out Barton College,” Karriker said. “Make it your home, first off, then try to get involved as much as you can because there are a lot of opportunities.”

Sarah Gaskins, a senior from New Bern, agreed. “I think getting involved in super important,” she said. “Getting involved helps you make friends, then you find your group and it makes it feel like home. I know I was very welcomed in as a freshman and I feel like that is one of the reasons why I am still here because it does feel like home.”

All members of the move-in crew had unifying T-shirts with the message “You are at home” on each one.

Barton College is a community, Gaskins said.

“You know all of your peers,” Gaskins said. “When you sign up for classes, there is at least somebody in there that you know, so that’s always nice having somebody around you that you know because then it’s a community and it feels like home.”

Students wheeled in bedding, pillows and clothes and toted books and boxes all afternoon.

“The thing that Barton does best is build relationships with our students and our families, so today we welcome them to our community and help them find their rooms and then find comfort especially on a hot day like today,” Searcy said. “When you feel comfortable and you feel at home, you feel more prepared and able to do the things which are our goals around here.”

Coley said move in day is an exciting day for not only the students but also for Barton College.

“They are bringing such great energy and enthusiasm to our campus,” Coley said.

“We are also thrilled because we are continuing to embark on developing bold leaders who are thinking boldly, so this represents to us the day of getting started with that with this academic year.”

This is the first year for a new program in the residence hall called “living learning communities.”

“We don’t see these buildings as dorms where students sleep,” Coley said. “We see them as places where they are applying what they are learning in class outside of class, where they are studying together and also learning together in social ways and through our student organizations.”

One of the communities is the Presidential Leadership Fellows started by Searcy.

“Over the course of this year and three years after that they are going to be engaging in progressively more advanced forms of leadership development and really thinking about how to best serve the community,” Coley said.

Freshman Auburey Smith, of Warrenton, Virginia, is a participant.

“Today we went an actually did community service,” Smith said. “I was with a group of 10 that went to the soup kitchen and we helped them serve soup, iced tea and shepherd’s pie, then we helped clean up. The community is there for us too. We need to give it our help so it can grow. It is a give and take process. I would actually like to live here when I graduate, so I would like to get to know everyone.”

Freshman Julianna Silfee, of Maryland, who plans to study deaf education, was among those moving into Wenger.

“We’re all still getting to know each other,” Silfee said.

“Everyone’s been very nice, so that’s great.”

By Drew C. Wilson
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