Story by Erik Potter
Mizzou is welcoming 5,500 freshman to campus this fall.
Over two days this past week, a team of campus and community volunteers helped move all of those new Tigers into their residence halls.
Student Affairs caught up with a few of the new students to hear their stories.
Hometown: St. Charles, Missouri
When Connor Bukowski toured Mizzou, he was impressed with all the school spirit. It wasn’t just passion stemming from the school’s membership in a Power Five sports conference. It was that students, faculty and staff are genuinely proud to be at Mizzou.
“It’s a great community and environment,” he says. “It’s like a big family.”
Bukowski, from St. Charles, Missouri, moved into Hudson Hall on Wednesday. He is majoring in business, but he’s also interested in movies and hopes to join the campus film club.
“I’m excited to get situated and start building relationships,” he says.
Hometown: St. Louis
Andrew Cook broke his arm for the second time in a playground accident when he was 8 years old. He still remembers the nurse anesthetist who put him under for the surgery.
“They were telling jokes” and keeping me relaxed, he says. It made him feel comfortable and less afraid. Ever since, he’s wanted to be a nurse anesthetist and do the same for other people.
Mizzou has a highly ranked nursing program, and the in-state tuition was a big draw for the St. Louis native.
Moving in to University Center on Saturday, he said he felt excited and nervous. He’s planning to join a fraternity and looks forward to the brotherhood, networking and chance to meet new people.
His father, Steve, was there to help his only child move in. He said he wasn’t going to shed any tears — though his wife would have had she been there. “I’m just going to enjoy the moment,” he says.
Hometown: Glasgow, Missouri
Major: Computer science
Growing up 45 minutes from Columbia in Glasgow, Missouri, Jackson Haskamp always had his eye on Mizzou.
He knew he wanted a degree in computer science, a particular area of strength for MU. After being accepted into the Honors College and knowing a few high school friends were at Mizzou, Haskamp’s choice was easy. The fact that there’s a rock climbing club here sealed the deal.
Haskamp’s mother, Denise Aholt Haskamp, BS Acc ’91, is excited to see her son follow in her footsteps.
“I just want him to plug into campus, complete his degree in four years, find a good job and flourish,” she says.
Hometown: Wildwood, Missouri
Major: Animal sciences
Jordyn Hollander woke up Wednesday morning in her Wildwood, Missouri, home and told her mom, “I’m ready!”
“I’m not!” replied her mom, Jill.
“It hasn’t hit me yet,” she says, waiting for her daughter outside of her new residence in Gateway Hall on Move-In Day.
Jordyn, despite feeling a little nervous, was eager to start the semester and dive into her classes. She is majoring in animal sciences and hopes to go to veterinary school.
The move-in volunteers helped her get situated in her room much faster than she thought possible. “They were great,” Jordyn says. “I didn’t expect them to help us unload everything.”
Kaleb Lowe’s welcome to Mizzou began far from Columbia.
He met a Student Ambassador at a recruitment event in his native Atlanta, and the two hit it off. She said if he ever wanted to visit campus she would show him around.
She was true to her word.
“We walked around and saw everything,” says Lowe, a nursing major moving into Wolpers Hall. “Everyone made me feel so welcome. I fell in love with Mizzou.”
Lowe is the youngest of two siblings. At Move-In Day, his father, Kendrick, was feeling proud of and happy for his son — but was nonetheless having a tough time.
“It’s very emotional,” he says. “Today, right now, is good, but I can’t stop crying.”
Hometown: Newbury Park, California
Major: Parks and recreation with a sports management emphasis
Like a lot of high school students, Luke Magnante loved sports and video games. But when he played NBA 2K, a popular basketball game, he would put it on “general-manager mode“ and geek out about trading and drafting players, and managing the salary cap for his virtual franchise.
He wanted a college that would help him pursue his dream of working in the front office of a real sports team. He was drawn to Mizzou not only because his older brother is a senior in engineering here, but also because it’s one of a few schools to offer an undergraduate degree in parks and recreation with an emphasis in sports management.
Magnante’s parents, Mike and Jill, drove their youngest child the roughly 2,000 miles from Newbury Park, California, to move him into Wolpers Hall. They’ll return to an empty house, but they’re OK.
“It’s hard to be sad when they’re so happy,” Jill says.
Hometown: Wildwood, Missouri
Marley Mienking’s mother jokes that she has her entire four-year Mizzou experience already mapped out. Actually, make that eight-year experience.
Mienking is a pre-vet scholarship student, meaning that if she meets certain criteria, after she graduates she’ll have guaranteed admittance to Mizzou’s highly competitive doctor of veterinary medicine program.
She always loved animals growing up, and after job shadowing at an animal hospital near her Wildwood, Missouri, home, she realized she could make a career out of caring for them.
Her mom, Cindy, and dad, Hank, made the drive with her on Saturday. Marley is their only child, but they weren’t dwelling on saying goodbye.
“We have confidence that she’ll do well,” Hank says. “She’s determined, a good student.”
Cindy says she is looking forward to seeing her daughter grow. “If you’ve done your job right as a parent, you’re good,” she says. “Now it’s, ‘Fly, little bird!’ ”
Major: Architectural studies
The family discount on tuition, thanks to his dad’s job at MU Hospital, certainly helped. But what sealed Columbia native Alex Schust’s decision to come to Mizzou was the campus itself.
“I’ve spent a lot of time downtown and on campus, and I really like the feel,” says the freshman who moved into Gateway Hall on Wednesday.
His older sister, Gabbi, moved into a different university three years ago. They were expecting to go through another labor-intensive day. What they found instead was something “pretty painless.”
“[The volunteers] had everything out of the car and on the way to the room in three minutes,” says Connor, an architectural studies major. “And we weren’t expecting them to carry it up. My parents were amazed.”
Hometown: Naperville, Illinois
Major: Business communication
It’s hard for Grace Swisher to narrow down the list of reasons she transferred to Mizzou. She likes the big campus. She likes the sorority system and being able to rush her first year. Also the student government and the opportunities it gives new students to get involved. And the culture of volunteerism. And the connection between campus and downtown.
“I love it,” she says, while literally jumping in place. “I’m excited.”
Swisher attended a boarding high school. Now as a transfer from another university, she says she is looking forward to making strong connections with her sorority sisters, as she’s seen other family members do before her.
“It was comforting to see them and know there are friendships that last outside of college,” she says.
When she and her mother, Kim, entered the Hearnes Center for check-in on Saturday, they were greeted by Chancellor Alexander Cartwright. He kept a low profile.
“I didn’t know that was him!” Grace says. “Yikers!”
She was impressed at the decked-out, school-spirited welcome. “It shows we’re all going to be proud to be Tigers when we graduate,” she says. “I feel pride here, and it makes a difference to the people coming.”
Then she jumped again.
Hometown: St. Louis
Major: Animal sciences
For Destiny Wright, Move-In Day was an extension of her campus visit in February. Everywhere she turned, smiling faces were eager to give her directions and lend a hand.
“Everyone is open to welcoming new students,” she says.
The Move-In Day volunteers showed the same level of enthusiasm. “It was real organized,” says Destiny’s older sister, Monica. “I was afraid we’d have to haul all that stuff up the stairs.”
Destiny’s mom, sisters and nephew made the drive from St. Louis Wednesday to move her into her room in Gateway Hall. As the excitement of unloading the car and moving things to the room faded, their faces turned somber.
Her nephew, J.J., age 3, said he wanted to bring his bed from home so he could sleep there tonight.
Monica was having trouble believing that the little sister whose diapers she changed was starting college.
Lorena, her younger sister by just a year, simply said, “I’m sad.”
Destiny was excited though. And nervous. She is majoring in animal sciences and plans to go to vet school and become a veterinarian.
Growing up, she naturally took to animals. Their family fostered kittens, which Destiny always helped take care of. She once nursed back to health a bird with a broken wing that she found on the sidewalk.
“One day it occurred to me that I could do this as a job and make money doing it,” she says.
After moving in as strangers, Andrew and Ymbar found friendship through food, music and games.
From snakes to swords, students explore the breadth of Mizzou’s involvement opportunities.
Mizzou rolls out the red carpet for incoming freshmen during Welcome Week.