Gannon University is welcoming its largest freshman class in close to three decades.
It’s just blocks away from lots of activity in downtown Erie this weekend, but Gannon University has its own line-up of events and some fun ways to welcome students.
Vehicles are rolling up and new students and their families are hopping out. Friday is ‘Welcome Day’ for Gannon University’s incoming class.
Emilee Vargo, a Freshman from New Castle, says, “I’m really excited. I’m just really excited to meet new people and start this new chapter in my life.”
Pages are also turning for Emilee’s parents. Their daughter is joining their son, Phillip, who is returning to the university as a junior.
Mom, Susan, says, “I’m actually excited. I think when it’s going to hit me is when I go home and there’s no one there, because both of them here at Gannon, now.”
As the Vargo household shrinks, another family is growing; Gannon is expecting at least 750 freshmen this year, and nearly 600 of them are moving onto campus.
Gannon President Dr. Keith Taylor attributes the numbers to teamwork, investments into the institution, and recruiting more students from the Erie area and around the world.
Taylor says, “The Gannon family comes together to bring in our new freshmen to welcome their parents and their family and their siblings onto campus and this year we’ve got just record numbers of students coming.”
And, part of the process is some 500 volunteers helping students settle in.
Denise Golden, Director of Residence Life at Gannon University, says, “They’re unloading cars in less than two minutes each, which is what we promised the families, but they really don’t believe us until they see it happen.”
“The time was record time,” Emilee tells us, “Extremely fast. They were very helpful.”
Her brother, Phillip, is also helpful, offering up some advice. “Definitely learn how to manage your time. It’s easy to get caught up. It’s just an overwhelming time in your life. You’re moving away from your parents for the first time. You’re trying to find yourself, but really just taking a leap of faith and don’t be afraid to try new things.”
Like calling a new place home.
Returning students will move onto campus tomorrow. Over the next several days, there will be a number of activities, all leading up to the first day of classes on Wednesday.