On Wednesday and Thursday, cars lined up outside residence halls on Liberty University’s campus as parents prepared to move their freshmen to their new homes.
Returning students will move in on Friday. Classes start Monday.
Student leadership teams gathered outside the hallways, holding signs and greeting freshmen and their families with loud cheers before offering to unload all their belongings.
“I saw ‘Servant’ on the back of their T-shirts, and I almost lost it,” said Fielding Neel of Kentucky, who was moving in with her granddaughter, Zoe Maxwell. “It was a moment. It really meant something to me. The heart of the students, the welcome, the encouragement, the excitement, it all really started for me.
“It’s pretty amazing,” said Roger Dayton, father of first-year commercial aviation student Stephen Dayton. “Admittedly, this morning when we walked in, there was a whole bunch of people screaming and screaming and cheering for us when we got here. It’s so much fun, and every time we’ve been here it’s been so enjoyable.
Liberty is hosting its second-largest incoming class in school history this year, after hitting a record high for new and transferring resident students last fall.
While Roger and his wife, Beth, are sad to say goodbye to their son, they said they were grateful to leave him somewhere they would call home.
“I was nervous yesterday, but when we got to campus and I saw my son, his face lit up,” Beth Dayton said. “My mom’s heart just went, ‘I feel safe that he’s around good people, he’s protected, he has a nice campus.’ Everyone we’ve met, whether in the elevator or in the car on campus or walking across campus as we walked here, everyone (asks) ‘Where are you from, what’s your name ?’ It’s just a very welcoming and wonderful campus.
Stephen Dayton said a Christian presence on campus was a top priority in his college selection. He discovered this and much more during his visit to Liberty.
“When I first came here I fell in love and knew this was where I had to be,” he said.
First-year exercise science student Logan Starkey felt the same way, but from a young age. When he was 4 years old, he fell asleep at night to the sermons of Dr. Jerry Falwell, the founder of Liberty, on television. And after playing hockey his whole life, the prospect of playing at his dream school sealed the deal. He is a member of Liberty’s ACHA Division II hockey team.
“I’m glad to know some of the guys… They’re all here trying to grow in faith. Jesus first, school second, hockey third. We are delighted with that,” he said.
After moving in, new students will be immersed in Welcome Week activities, with multiple opportunities to make friends and acclimate to campus life through events sponsored by the Student Activities Office at Liberty and the College of Applied Studies and Academic Success.