Families take part in ‘joyful milestone’ as students move to campus
While Robert Frazier and his family have been frequent visitors to Chicago, Wednesday’s nearly four-hour drive to the city from their home in Detroit ranked among the most special.
Accompanied by his daughter, Tera, and another family member, Frazier drove to the University of Illinois Chicago campus Aug. 16 to help his granddaughter, Ania Dunn, move into the Academic and Residential Complex, where she will live as a first-year student.
“We came nonstop, nodding and weaving,” Frazier said with a laugh as he sat behind the wheel of his parked SUV, finishing a takeout breakfast while Dunn and a cousin took control and emptied the vehicle.
“I’m excited because of her journey. She’s so independent — that’s why I’m sitting in the car.”
As she pulled out cardboard boxes packed with her clothes and other items, Dunn looked at the Willis Tower and the Loop cityscape behind her, which she will see from her window this year, and said that was a primary reason she chose UIC.
“Just being in the city made me want to come here,” said Dunn, who will study international business and marketing. “The ARC is kind of like a luxury apartment, and that drew me in.”
Frazier said his granddaughter’s independent streak exhibited itself when she was a young child and that helped him prepare for today. But Dunn’s mother said she was not at that point yet, and she had a plan to help her cope with her daughter being so far away.
“The treadmill,” Tera Frazier said with a laugh.
During the first day of campus move-in, many of the 3,430 students living on campus this year were greeted by newly appointed UIC Chancellor Marie Lynn Miranda, who jumped in to help the new UIC families. As she helped fill moving carts with boxes of clothing, food and even an electric guitar, Miranda handed out business cards to parents and assured family members that their children would be cared for.
“It’s easy to be a little sad about the fact that your child has reached this important milestone, but the much more important thing is to be joyful,” Miranda reminded parents.
“It’s an amazing thing your child has done, and the parents were part of making it happen, and it’s something they should be proud of.”
As Miranda shared her thoughts, she helped Will and Veda Williams of DeKalb to unload their vehicle and fill several moving carts with items their daughter, Makayla, brought for her new home. While both parents said they were feeling excitement and anxiety, Veda Williams said she was impressed that the new chancellor helped move her daughter in.
“That was awesome — she was right in there working just like everybody else, and at the end, she’s like, ‘Oh, by the way, I’m the chancellor,’” Veda Williams said. “I like that. She’s not on a pedestal; she’s just like regular folk.”
Deja Vaughan, who is from Chicago, helped her parents empty their SUV as she prepared herself for her first year studying nursing.
“I’m feeling excited, but I’m very nervous being on my own,” said Vaughan, who also looked forward to building a friendship with her roommate. “My plan is to have a peaceful space and having fun throughout the school year.”
Vaughan was accompanied by her grandparents, Terrence and Dorene Thomas, who said they felt pride and happiness as their granddaughter began the next phase of her life.
“We’re excited, and I like that there’s a medical school,” Dorene Thomas said.
As Miranda helped Noah Melendez and his family unpack, the Chicago native said that as a second-year student, some of his anxiety from last year has gone away. Melendez, an Evans Scholar recipient, will live in the Academic and Residential Complex with other Evans Scholars this year.
“There’s always a little bit of stress just coming into the year, but the excitement balances out the stress,” Melendez said. “I’m ready to start classes and be with my friends again.”
Before they moved Noah in, his mother, Lisa Orta, reminded him to focus on his studies and have his goals written down where he could see them daily.
“He wants to be a lawyer, so the pressure is on,” Orta said.
Benedict Udeogu, a computer engineering student, said he was looking forward to moving to Chicago because it is a city he knows well, and he has friends here already. He said he planned to take advantage of the proximity of the campus.
“I’m excited; I’m ready to take the next step of my life,” Udeogu said. “I know we’re close to the Chicago Bulls’ home, so I’ll be going there and also visiting the beach.”
When Cydnee Baylis knocked on the door of her room, her roommate, Marisa Rodriguez, who had moved in earlier, greeted her with a giant hug as though the two had been longtime friends.
Baylis’ father, Tony, looked on, beaming that his daughter had already developed a friendship with her roommate.
“I feel pride, quite frankly, and I’m excited for her,” Tony Baylis said.
Baylis, who is from Champaign, and Rodriguez, from Elgin, said they had communicated about how to decorate their room and described how they wanted to get to know the city together.
“It’s so cool how you can just walk to the city, and it’s right there,” said Rodriguez, a nursing student.
“Since I’m studying music, I wanted to be surrounded by a culture of music,” said Cydnee Baylis. “I would like to go to some concerts.”