University of South Carolina

Welcome back: Newest Gamecocks move in

By Megan Sexton,, 803-777-1421

The newest Carolina students are arriving on campus this weekend – including 4,900 freshmen – making their way into residence halls.

Lugging pillows and refrigerators, stuffed animals and futons, more than 6,000 students will arrive by the end of the weekend. Welcome Carolina activities are in full swing, with classes set to start Thursday.

Here’s a glance at what was happening around campus during move-in week.

Gamecocks times three

The Phelps triplets -- Caroline, Kristen and Tim -- from West Columbia, S.C., moved in to their USC residence halls Friday morning. Caroline and Kristen are sharing a room in Preston; Tim is rooming with a friend from high school in South Tower.

“I decided I’d rather room with my sister because we’ve been close our whole lives and we really get along,” said Caroline Phelps, who plans to major in nursing.

Kristen Phelps, an accounting and finance major, said USC was her top choice because “it has one of the best business schools in the nation and there’s a wonderful community feel about it.”

Tim Phelps, who plans to study engineering, said Carolina was originally his second choice for college – until he toured USC.

“Everyone was so nice and helpful, on the campus tour and the engineering tour,” he said. “I could see myself living here. It was the best feel of any of the colleges we looked at.”

The three, along with their parents, brought a van and car stuffed with belongings. “I wanted to bring my entire closet. I’m the diva of the three,” Caroline said, adding that her one must-have item was the tattered blanket she has had since she was a baby. “I’ll admit it. I brought a baby blanket with me to college.”

The fraternal triplets are recipients of the Gamecock Guarantee, a scholarship program for academically talented first-generation college students from low-income South Carolina families. “We’re absolutely thrilled they are going to USC,” said their mother, Karen Phelps. “I had never been to USC until we toured it and we all fell in love with it. And it wasn’t even a sunny day. It just felt like home. They want to be Gamecocks.”

Coast-to-coast move

Haile Brant came across the country to attend USC. Brant, her mother, stepfather, father and brother flew from San Diego to move her into Patterson for sorority recruitment.

“I chose it because the business school is so good and because I also want to be a hospitality minor. It’s a beautiful campus, and it has that Southern charm,” said Brant, who shipped her belongings -- including a TV, clothing and several bathing suits – to campus before she arrived.

Her mother, Carmela Burke, said she encouraged her daughter to head to South Carolina. “I told her to leave California. To get out and see other people, go to a different state and experience a different place,” Burke said.

A presidential welcome

Students and families moving into the Honors Residence on Saturday morning were greeted by two well-known Gamecocks: President Harris Pastides and Cocky.

“The university’s reputation continues to be enhanced. I think it’s partly the reputation of the academic programs, athletic success, but more than anything it’s the spirit of our university,” Pastides said.

“It’s moving day today and it’s drizzly out and I expected to see a little bit of a gray atmosphere and attitude, but not at all. People are very, very excited to be here," he said. "For me personally it brings back a lot of memories. I can remember being dropped off freshman year in the dorm, of course the dorm was way lot different than this beautiful residence hall. My mom cried. My father gave me a big hug and I turned to my roommate and said, ’Let’s go.’ I think a lot of that is happening today, too.”

 Don't leave home without it

Wonder what new students couldn’t leave home without? Here’s a sampling:

“A mattress pad and my stuffed froggy. I’ve had it since I was a baby,” said Bessie Rose Woltz, a freshman from Winston-Salem, N.C., who was moving into Patterson.

“My laptop. That’s a necessity,” said Kristen Phelps of West Columbia, moving into Preston.

“My TV. I’m a little too addicted to TV and Netflicks. And my sports equipment,” said Jacob Nave of Columbus, Ohio, moving into the Honors Residence.

“Photographs. And I had to bring my pink teddy bear that I’ve had my whole life. His name is Pinkie,” said Hayley Taylor of Hartsville, S.C., who was moving into Bates House.

“A laptop and a phone to keep in touch with everyone,” said Karina Zander of Boston, moving into Bates House. (Although the one thing she hated to leave at home? Her Old English sheepdog.)

A Gamecock family

The USC family table at the Russell House saw a steady stream of parents and new students Saturday wanting to learn more about campus and the city of Columbia.

Rick and Mellia Davis from Hickory, N.C., stopped by to pick up garnet and black “USC Dad” and “USC Mom” bumper stickers—ones they intend to display proudly.

The Davis’ son, Perry, is entering USC as a member of the Honors College and plans to study biomedical engineering. Perry was lured to USC by the strong reputation of the Honors College and the beauty campus, which he says looks good even in the rain.

Gamecock football doesn’t hurt either.

In fact, the entire Davis family will be back in Columbia Aug. 29 for the season opener against the University of North Carolina, where Perry’s older brother earned his degree.

“There’s no mixed loyalties here,” Rick says. “We’re a Gamecock family now, so this is going to be fun.”

A helping hand

Each year, hundreds of faculty and staff help students and their families move into residence halls.

Carol Stork, a chemist with the College of Engineering and Computing, says she’s been lending a hand for the last 13 or 14 years.

“It’s a way of connecting with students and parents. The parents are always grateful for the help,” says Stork, who moved students into South Tower, the same residence hall she moved in during her junior year in the mid 1960s.

“South Tower is a bit different. It was new the year I moved in. Now boys live here too,” says Stork, who graduated in 1968.

She says each year the computers get smaller and the TVs get larger during move-in.

“I used to see ironing boards, which made me laugh because I knew they wouldn’t be using them,” Stork says. “Students these days seem more aware about what they really need. Parents also seem less nervous about it all. I think kids are having more experiences in high school that are preparing them for college and for being away from home.”

Early arrivals

Incoming freshman Aileena Roberts didn’t let a gully washer dampen her spirits or move-in plans when she arrived on campus at 7 a.m. Friday at the Thornwell residence hall.

Roberts, a vocal performance major, didn’t have to travel too far from home. The Dreher High School graduate grew up 20 minutes from USC’s campus, and said it was the comfort of knowing that home wasn’t that far away that brought her here.

“My sister went here, my mom works here, it’s kind of a family thing,” she said. “Still it was really sad, bittersweet to move away.”

Her mother Ruth Roberts works as a student coordinator in the College of Education. She said they had a plan in place, and she knew they needed to arrive early.

“We didn’t expect all the rain, but everything went smoothly because we got here first and had everything ready to unload and it all worked out,” Ruth Roberts said.

Now, that she’s settled in her residence hall, Aileena Roberts is looking forward to meeting her roommates and getting on with an exciting year.

“I’m most excited about meeting a lot of different people you couldn’t really meet in high school,” she said. “I feel like it’s more of an expanded experience with more people from different places.”

Keeping the traffic moving

Despite the rain, USC resident mentors helped welcome the newest Gamecocks and their parents to campus during move-in weekend by directing traffic and parking.

Haley Carpenter, a junior global supply chain and operations management major in the South Carolina Honors College, braved the rain with a large umbrella to direct parents Friday with parking around the Honors College Residence Hall. She directed parents where and how to park with a smile on her face.

"I love seeing everyone so excited," she said. "It's a lot of fun just being out here anyway, but the rain means I have to be doubly excited. I thought it would be awful, but I've enjoyed it. I'm already wet and the parents are nice."

Move In,  by-the-numbers

  • 4,900 --- The estimated number of students in the university's freshman class
  • 95 --- The percentage of first-year students who live on campus
  • 3,976 --- The number of roms in the university's 24 residence halls
  • 18 --- The sets of twins in the freshman class. There is one set of triplets
  • 356,852 --- The number of meals served in the Grand Market Place in the Russell House each year.
  • 4,280 --- The number of textbook titles being used in the fall semester
  • More by-the-numbers info here
Posted: 08/16/13 @ 3:00 PM | Updated: 08/19/13 @ 2:18 PM | Permalink