Alumni welcome incoming freshmen with hearty good-byes
By Liz White, firstname.lastname@example.org, 803-777-2848
With just 14 days until students return to campus for another school year, Carolina alumni across the country are sending the incoming freshman class to Columbia with one last hoorah at home.
My Carolina Alumni Association’s alumni clubs in cities across the country in partnership with Parents Programs and Admissions sends the incoming freshman class away from home with a gathering in their honor. These Freshmen Send-Off parties have become a way for new Gamecocks and their parents to meet alumni from their hometowns and learn a bit more about USC ahead of move-in day.
This year the alumni association will host 22 parties, from Myrtle Beach to Los Angeles, in the homes of alumni, restaurants and an ice cream parlor, sending off over 450 students. The seafood chain restaurant, Bonefish Grill, is a big sponsor, hosting four parties at various locations, since a local owner, Cliff Arthur, is a 1986 College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management alumnus.
Kinsey Cooper, director of regional alumni engagement, said the parties do more than just connect parents, freshmen and alumni.
“[The parties] get students excited and get alumni involved,” she said.
For freshmen, it is a resource, she said. At a recent gathering, a student government officer stopped by to answer questions.
Alumni often report that the send-off parties offer a great interaction, Cooper said.
Kelly Roberts, a 2011 USC graduate from the International Studies Program, recently stopped by the Washington, D.C., area send-off party. She said the program is a great experience that she wished she had in her hometown of Abilene, Texas, before she started at Carolina.
“At this Freshmen Send-Off, it was great to see future students interacting with each other, talking about football, dorms, Greek life, majors, etc.,” Roberts said. “I think it’s great for students from the same area to get the opportunity to know each other ahead of time and know that even when they are away from school, there are Gamecocks in their area.”
In bigger cities like Atlanta, Philadelphia or Washington about 55 to 70 students will show up, said Hunter Evans, director of student programs for the alumni association.
At the party in Estill, S.C., six people gathered to play Gamecock trivia, Evans said. In smaller areas like Estill, the send-offs can mean a lot to students because it helps them know someone else on campus before arriving and ease some of their nerves about heading off to college away from home, she said.
Estill is hardly the norm, though, Cooper said. About 20 new students came to the send-off in Nashville, Tenn., to play Gamecock Bingo.
There are 12 more parties before move-in day in cities like Atlanta, Greenville and Charleston. Cooper said university representation is welcome at the events.
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