STARKVILLE — Vehicles lined the drop-off areas outside Mississippi State University”s 16 dormitories Wednesday as thousands of students returned for the fall semester.
Underclassmen and their parents carried boxes, televisions, comforters and other items from their vehicles to their dorm rooms, then gave emotional hugs goodbye and settled into their new homes. Dozens of juniors, seniors and graduate students volunteered at each dorm throughout the day, along with Mississippi State President Mark Keenum, his wife, Rhonda, and other administrators.
The Keenums began their day by helping students move into the newly constructed South Hall dormitory — a four-story structure which holds 352 beds — then moved on to several other dorms around campus.
“This is great,” Rhonda Keenum said as students hauled their possessions past her in the lobby of South Hall.
Among the students moving in Wednesday was freshman Robert Evans of Greenville, who plans to major in accounting. As Evans and his mom, Barbara, waited for an elevator in South Hall, both grinned from ear to ear.
“I”m just excited,” Evans said. “I can”t wait. I”m not really nervous at all.”
Barbara Evans, meanwhile, had a slightly different take when asked how it felt to send her son off to college.
“It”s so sad,” she said. “He”s ecstatic, but I”m sad.”
Among other students moving in Wednesday was freshman Ashley Allen, who also hails from Greenville. Allen took summer classes at Mississippi State and already was familiar with campus and the rest of the city.
“I”m feeling excited and very hot,” Allen said, in reference to the muggy, 90-plus degree weather.
The university won”t know exact enrollment figures until 10 days after classes start on Aug. 18, Keenum said. Then the university has to submit those numbers to the College Board. The College Board will release official enrollment figures in about a month, Keenum estimated.
“But I think we”re going to be well over 19,000,” he said.
As Keenum helped move students into their dorms, he said it brought back memories of his own days as a student at Mississippi State.
“It was nothing like this though,” he said with a laugh. “We didn”t have the president or other senior faculty members and administrators out here helping me move my stuff in.”