Cars packed with luggage lined up along Lawson street and around campus this week as incoming N.C. Central University freshmen moved in.
Volunteers starting as early as 7 a.m. gave directions and helped students and their parents push carts full of clothes, pillows and televisions up to dorm rooms.
“Good morning. Welcome to N.C. Central University,” Chancellor Debra Saunders-White greeted families.
For three hours Wednesday she helped new arrivals unload their belongings. She hugged parents and told them not to worry, assuring them their child had made a good decision to attend the school.
The move-in tradition invites people from the community to help move students in. It is followed by a week-of-welcome.
“We’ve got everybody out here because this first impression, this opportunity to greet people as folks begin a new era and chapter in their life, is so important,” Saunders-White said. “I’m loving it.”
Nearly a quarter of the 1,200 incoming freshmen and transfer students would be the the first in their families to earn a four-year degree.
This is Dekedrik Fields’ first time away from home. He said he chose NCCU because it was close to his home in Henderson and so he could be in the school’s Centennial Scholars Program, a mentoring program for minority males that emphasizes leadership, community involvement, and a sense of brotherhood.
Angela Fields admitted she was a little worried.
“He’s the first of seven kids to go to college, and he’s the middle child of the family,” she said. “He’s never been away from home.”
She looked at her son.
“I’m so used to looking in his room and seeing him curled up in his bed.”
“I’m going to put a teddy bear in your bed,” she teased her son. “Is that OK?”
15 percent cap
Earlier this month, the UNC Board of Governors capped the amount of tuition that the state’s public universities may devote to financial aid at 15 percent.
About 86 percent of NCCU students receive financial aid, and the school was one of six at or above the new cap.
“It’s just another challenge we’ll have to navigate,” Saunders-White said. “We have a very strong economic presence here, so any change in our ability to fund our students’ education, we’re going to have to drive our fundraising efforts to focus more acutely on scholarships.”
“While it may be challenging with this 15 percent cap we’re going to look at it as an opportunity to grow and remain relevant,” she added.