THE BUSTLE OF CAROLINA BLUE
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s fresh crop of first-year students balanced stacks of desk supplies and lifted little refrigerators as they moved onto campus Friday.
Even though the university received a record 30,836 applications for this year, the ultimate UNC Class of 2017 is comprised of 3,960 students, all hailing from 95 North Carolina counties, 45 states and 20 countries, according to UNC.
The students are preparing to start the fall semester on Aug. 20.
Page McWhirter stood next to stack of plastic bins almost as tall as her. They were filled with the clothes and knick-knacks of her daughter, and McWhirter, wearing a Carolina blue shirt, was waiting on a hand truck.
“This took a lot for me to put on because I’m a (N.C.) State grad,” she said.
She’s nervous, she admitted, but excited for her daughter, Lacey, who’s going to study nursing. The family’s from Indian Trail, just outside Charlotte, and Lacey is the last of four kids to leave home but the first to go to a big university. She was one of only 60 people in her Christian academy’s graduating class.
Lacey said she grew interested in nursing after going on a mission trip to Uganda two years ago. They had handed out wheelchairs and crutches to community members who needed them.
McWhirter said in a few hours, they’ll become empty nesters.
“I was happy for her, because I knew she worked really hard,” she said. “It takes a lot to get into Chapel Hill these days.”
About 43.7 percent of the first-year students ranked within the top 10 students in their high school class, according to the university.
Shelly Bishop was on the sidewalk instructing two muscled UNC friends of the family, who also are on the university’s cheer squad, where to carry her daughter’s things. Bishop said she was heading to UNC Charlotte later that day to move in her other twin daughter.
They’re a UNC system family from Jacksonville – Her children will attend UNC Chapel Hill, Wilmington and Charlotte.
Her daughter, Taylor, checked her phone and sat in the middle of the clothes and organizer bins waiting to be moved upstairs.
“I’m a little sad losing both girls at the same time,” Bishop said. “…With the help from friends, we can get things done.”
UNC sophomore Chisung Cho was volunteering that day and helping families with their stressful moves. She walked right up to one of the families, introducing herself and oozing enthusiasm.
“Heck yeah, I want to meet new people,” Cho said. Many of the students asked her about her major (math and psychology) and what clubs she’s involved with at UNC (Cornerstone, a Christian organization). She also works at the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.
“Don’t let anyone take my microwave,” a dad instructed her before he walked up the stairs of Craige Residence Hall.
“Parents are stressed, kids are excited, and then there’s me,” Cho said.
The sidewalks were lined with pillows and snacks waiting to go upstairs. The extreme movers were carrying small sofas up multiple stories. Other families even rented U-Haul trucks.
Sarah Richardson, an 18-year-old from Greensboro, is preparing to start her year studying exercise science. She felt like she brought too many clothes, she said, as her 13-year-old brother, a man of few words, wheeled some of her belongings toward her dorm.
“I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet,” Richardson said about her family. “I don’t really feel like they’re leaving.”
She gathered some of her clothes in a drycleaner bag, wearing a UNC baseball cap while she organized.
“I feel like I had to stock up on some colors,” she said. “…I had no Carolina blue.”