Story by Erik Potter

On a college campus, fall feels like spring.

Gone is the summer dormancy. Here is a new academic term and nearly 4,700 new students, nearly all of whom moved into their residence halls over two days in August.

The new class is smart, with an average ACT score of 26. It is also diverse, with a nearly 30 percent increase in minority enrollment versus last year.

Each of the 4,696 students has a unique story. These are three of them.

Caitlen Boyd poses for a photo with her parents outsider her room in Wolpers Hall.
Michelle and Charlie Hanama dropped off their youngest daughter, Caitlen, at Mizzou on early move-in. Photo by Anh Braddock

Caitlen Boyd

Hometown: Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
Major: Journalism
Hall: Wolpers

“I’m excited!” says Caitlen Boyd. She’s standing in line at the Hearnes Center during early move-in, waiting to get her time slot to move in to Wolpers Hall. She drove to campus with her parents from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. “A lot of people at my high school go in-state for school,” Boyd says. “I’m excited to branch out and meet new people.”

Her mother’s excitement for her daughter is more varnished. “I’m anxious — this is our baby,” Michelle Boyd says. “It’s what’s best for her though.”

Caitlen plans to major in broadcast journalism at Mizzou and focus on sports. She’s got her eye on ESPN and FOX Sports.

In high school, she played soccer and called football play-by-play. During games she wore a headset that let her listen to the coaches call plays. She’d then yell to the camera operators to direct their shot — “They’re running this play; angle to No. 7!”

By late morning of move-in, however, after unpacking all her things, Caitlen’s energy wanes. “I’m ready to unpack, lay down, do my orientation, meet up with friends — and sleep,” she says.

Jovan Torres poses for a photo with his sisters in his room in Excellence Hall .
Amanda Torres, left, graduated from Mizzou in 2016. She moved her younger brother, Jovan, into his Excellence Hall room on early move-in. Their youngest sister, Ariana, poses with them. Photo by Anh Braddock

Jovan Torres

Hometown: Oak Lawn, Illinois
Major: Computer engineering
Hall: Excellence

Jovan Torres is the middle child in a close-knit family. His older sister, Amanda Torres, graduated from Mizzou with a psychology degree in 2016. He used to love visiting her from Oak Lawn, Illinois, a Chicago suburb. And it was only partly because he wanted to see her.

“I think I decided to come here because of Seoul Taco,” Jovan says. “I love the food here.”

Jovan is a freshman in computer engineering. The whole family drove down on early move-in to move him in to Excellence Hall.

Even more than the local Columbia cuisine though, Jovan was hooked by the friendly atmosphere on campus. He had noticed it when he visited his sister, but when he came for Summer Welcome as an incoming student, he saw it in a new way.

“Everyone in my group was walking quietly with the group leader at first,” he says. “But we were together the whole day and eventually started talking. It felt like home.”

Jovan made friends in the group and stayed in touch over the summer through Snapchat. Some now live in his building, and he was already making plans to meet up before his family had even left.

Despite already putting one child through Mizzou, Jovan’s mother, Ana Torres, found it just as hard to leave her second child behind. “I don’t want to let go,” she says. “I thought it would be easier, but it’s not.”

Jarrod Fulford poses for a picture with his family in his new residence hall room.
Jarrod Fulford, center, got a family escort to Mizzou on Move-In Day. From left is his father, Tobe; sister, Sydney; mother, April; and grandmother, Pam. Photo by Mitchell Barch

Jarred Fulford

Hometown: Kankakee, Illinois
Major: Health science
Hall: Gillet

Most students moving away from home for the first time are a little trepidatious. Jarred Fulford wasn’t showing any of that on Move-In Day. “I’m excited, ready to be on my own,” says the Kankakee, Illinois, native.

He is planning to major in health science, go to medical school and become a surgeon. He likes anatomy and figuring out what’s gone wrong in bodies that aren’t operating well.

As an undergraduate, however, he’s hoping to learn not just about the human body but also  about human intereaction. “I want to get more involved, see different people, how well they work together and learn to work better in a team,” he says.

His parents are amused by this. Jarred was already a very involved high school students, playing on the basketball and football teams and volunteering with Big Brothers, Big Sisters.

They came down, along with his grandmother and younger sister, to help move him into Gillet Hall. “We watched him grow, develop, turn from a high school student into a man,” says his father, Tobe. “It’s been awesome.”