The University at Albany was bustling Thursday with eager students moving into their dorms for the first time and parents preparing to say goodbye before heading back home.
Hundreds of freshmen — with nearly all of their belongings in tow — moved into UAlbany’s State and Indian quads on Thursday.
“I feel like I have more stuff than everyone else moving in here,” said Stephanie Grau, 18, an incoming freshman from Yonkers. “I have one friend who is moving in, too, but I’m pretty anxious to just get to know people.”
Grau said she chose UAlbany because it’s a big university with many programs to choose from. She has not yet declared a major, and is looking to explore her possibilities on campus.
“Since I am undecided, I was looking for a big school that’s a little far from home, so I can live on campus,” she said. “It’s really nice here. I’m very excited.”
Grau is one of more than 2,500 freshmen enrolled at UAlbany this year among 12,818 undergraduate students and 4,555 graduate students. The college is also welcoming 58 new full-time faculty members.
“Truthfully, I feel like this is the most exciting time of the year,” said Christine Bouchard, vice president for student success. “The time goes by so fast, and the students are so happy to be back.”
Thursday was not only move-in day but also UAlbany’s annual Candlelighting Ceremony. The event brings together all new students to participate in lighting the university’s “flame of knowledge.” There were also fireworks.
“The Candlelighting Ceremony is a great tradition for all students to gather together, pass the flame of knowledge and just have fun,” Bouchard said.
Kaelyn Wood, 20, said when her father helped move her in at UAlbany three years ago, he shed a tear and refused to hug her and say goodbye. Now, he can’t wait to drop her off.
“I already moved in, and I’m just here helping others do the same,” she said.
Wood, who is studying psychology and music, said she’s happy to be back on campus and start singing again in the college’s a capella group, The Chamber Singers. She is also gearing up for one more year before graduation.
UAlbany’s 24-story Mohawk Tower at Indian Quad reopened this fall and is squeaky clean for this year’s freshmen. The tower has 440 beds, study space and a penthouse.
Most of the new students were gathered around Indian and State quads, with the heart of the campus mostly empty except for a few tours walking in and out of the academic buildings.
Water gushing from the centrally located fountain could be heard echoing around the academic buildings’ concrete walls. The fountain made its grand debut in May after undergoing more than two years of reconstruction.
“The fountain is so cool,” Grau said.
UAlbany is working on other upgrades around campus, including a $62 million expansion and renovation of the Campus Center. The school also just opened its new Information Technology building, which houses the university’s data center.
“I’m happy to be back,” Wood said. “There are a lot of new things, and I think this will be a good year.”