Mix of emotions as freshmen move into dorms at VU
By Amy Lavalley Post-Tribune correspondent August 24, 2013 5:12PM
Incoming Valparaiso University freshman J.J. Daniels and his mother, Stacey James, chat outside Alumni Hall on campus Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013. | Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 26, 2013 6:55AM
VALPARAISO — Stacey James had sunglasses on.
Sure, it was a sunny day, but the shades were meant to mask her emotions as she sent her son, J.J. Daniels, 18 — her oldest — off to Valparaiso University on Saturday.
A tear made its way out from underneath her glasses, and she wiped it away before it got to her cheek.
“I was OK until he started packing yesterday,” the LaPorte mom said. “It’s going to be one of those days, and I forgot my tissues.”
Other moms had plenty to spare as they underwent the same ritual, trying to be brave as they sent their children off to college. The children, for their part, admitted they were excited to head off on their own, but left home with mixed emotions.
It was a big day for the campus as well, as the university welcomed an incoming class of more than 1,100 students, the largest group in 32 years, according to a university spokeswoman. The university’s overall population this year, including undergraduates, graduates and the law school, is an estimated 4,400 students.
Move-in to campus dorms went smoothly, as student volunteers from an assortment of campus groups tagged items and got them into rooms, and members of the football team helped lug mini-fridges and other heavy items.
Daniels, a computer science major sporting a gold university T-shirt, said he liked the campus atmosphere and that it was close to home.
“It’s bittersweet. I’m ready to go to college, but I like LaPorte and there’s a lot of stuff I’m going to miss,” he said.
Gloria Garcia was sending off her only child, Julius, 18. The Naperville, Ill., mother said she’s been crying on and off since the family came to campus for orientation in June.
“He’s going to do well here, and I’m thrilled he has the opportunity because my husband and I didn’t go to college, but I’m going to miss him at home,” she said.
Julius Garcia, who is majoring in the classics and plans to attend law school, said he looked forward to picking classes he was interested in.
“I’m a little nervous, but I feel that was expected,” he said.