On the first day of classes for the Class of 2019, there may have been some confusion trying to find a classroom or getting a homework assignments but the overall theme of the day was “excitement”— excited to be on campus, excited to meet new people, and excited about all the possibilities and opportunities ahead
“I like this campus. It’s not too big, but it’s definitely not small and I’m trying not to get lost,” said Felicia McKenzie ’19, who was born in Jamaica and now lives in New York City. She is a biology major and looking forward to a career in the medical field. “I like chemistry and my past chemistry teacher came to this school,” she said.
Autumn Cody ’19 from Jay, Maine also has a teacher connection to the University. Cody, who is matriculating at the University’s Hartford Art School, said she actually felt very prepared for her first day of classes because her high school art teacher, who earned his master’s degree at the University, had prepared his students for what a University art class would be like.
Like McKenzie, Cody said having a high school teacher who studied at UHart was significant, but not the main reason she chose to come here. “After the first time I came here for a visit, when I went back home, everyone knew that this was where I was going to go to school because when I was here, I just felt like I belonged” Cody said.
“I came from a small school in the city, and I like the close interaction between the teachers and the students in these classrooms. You get a one-on-one connection, and I feel very comfortable being able to ask questions” said Isaiah Awoshiley, who came to the University from New York City. Awoshiley, who is of Nigerian descent, is majoring in biology.
Some professors have unique ways of helping the students get to know each other in the first class. In Assistant Professor Claudia Oakes’ “Introduction to Health Professions” class in the University’s College of Education, Nursing and Health Professions, she had students tell “a little bit about themselves including a fun fact.” Those facts ranged from being a classically trained pianist, to being a cancer survivor, to having a parent who was due to give birth any day. Every “fun fact” elicited an “oooh” or an “ahhh” from the entire class.
There are and will be many stories in the Class of 2019, which is the largest to enter the University since 2009. They come from 37 states and 26 countries and for the first time in several years, the class has slightly more females (53 percent) than males (47 percent). Although the new students’ fields of study are widely spaced among the more than 100 programs offered by the University, the most popular anticipated majors are engineering, health sciences, business, and psychology.
The University also is welcoming 36 new faculty members this year, about 30 percent higher than the numbers hired in the past few years.
Not surprisingly, faculty are just as excited for the coming year as the students. “We’re all energized and excited to get to meet new students,” said Kristin Comeforo, assistant professor in the University’s School of Communication. “It’s fun to see their excitement because it brings a lot of energy to our teaching.”
Laura Pence, professor of chemistry in the University’s College of Arts and Sciences, loves teaching first-year students. “They start out with the most amazing poker faces. If I can get them to warm up and laugh at my jokes on the first day of class, to start thinking that it’s okay to open up a little bit and be ourselves, then that’s a really good start for the class. If they invest in me and trust me, then I can really help them grow.”