ECSU freshmen arrive on campus

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Freshman Asia Deal (center) carries a crate filled with items from home into her new dorm room at Viking Towers on move-in day at Elizabeth City State University, Friday. Helping her move in are several members of her family.


By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Aamir Williams arrived at Elizabeth City State University Friday with big plans.

Williams, 18, of Chesapeake, Virginia, will be majoring in biology and plans to continue her education at either Eastern Virginia Medical School or the medical school at Virginia Commonwealth University, eventually becoming an obstetrician-gynecologist.

Between now and medical school, though, there lot’s of studying to do here — and likely some fun times, too. Williams, a graduate of Deep Creek High School, said she’s looking forward to Viking Fest and to the first day of classes.

“I heard it’s fun,” she said.

Williams was one of scores of freshmen students moving into their dorm rooms on the ECSU campus on Friday.

She said she likes her room at Viking Towers, adding that the compact design of ECSU’s campus appeals to her.

“I like it. It’s nice and small,” she said.

Williams said she chose ECSU because of the money she’ll be saving on tuition thanks to NC Promise — $2,500 a semester for out-of-state students — and because the campus is the right distance from home — close by but not too close. She’s looking forward to the start of classes next week and figures time management will be her biggest challenge.

Also moving in at Viking Towers on Friday was Asia Deal, 18, of Norfolk, Virginia, a basketball point guard who said she is looking forward to taking the court as a Viking.

“I’m here for basketball,” Deal said, noting her team at Norview High School last year went to the state quarterfinals.

Deal plans to major in criminal justice at ECSU. She said her goal is to play basketball overseas after graduation and then return to the states to work in forensics.

She said she will be working hard to maintain at least a 3.0-grade point average while playing basketball. Amid all that, she said, she also hopes to “have fun and enjoy my freshman year.”

The biggest challenge will probably be the preseason routine of “waking up at 3 o’clock for workouts,” Deal said. Those workouts start Sept. 4, but Deal has been careful to stay in shape over the summer.

Her mother, Gwendolyn Deal, said she was happy when coach Antonio Davis called and said he wanted her daughter to come to Elizabeth City and play for him. Gwendolyn said she liked what she’s seen of the ECSU campus.

“It’s nice,” she said. “It’s up-and-coming.”

Gwendolyn said she likes the campus’ proximity to Norfolk and noted it’s still far enough away to give her daughter an opportunity to develop some independence. Her two older children attended Virginia State and Norfolk State, so she’s excited about her youngest starting college.

“I’m excited to see her play,” she said.

Darien Allison, 18, of Portsmouth, Virginia, also will be playing basketball at ECSU. The I.C. Norcom High School graduate said his high school team won three consecutive state championships and went to the regionals this past year. He’s expecting to play on some good teams while at ECSU.

“I’m expecting multiple CIAA championships,” Allison said. “I’ve been winning and I expect to keep on winning.”

Allison said the biggest challenge for him will probably be adjusting to life in a more rural area. He said he lived in Baltimore, Maryland, before moving to Portsmouth.

Allison said he felt very comfortable at ECSU when he came for his campus visit and could tell that the staff really cared about him as a person.

A computer science major, Allison hopes to play basketball overseas after graduation and then start a government contracting agency.

As freshmen moved into residence halls Friday, interim ECSU Chancellor Karrie Dixon made the rounds welcoming many of them to the campus.

Dixon said staff advised her Friday’s freshman move-in generated the most excitement they had seen on a student move-in day in many years.

“We are excited,” Dixon said.

Although no hard numbers were available Friday afternoon, Dixon said the university expects its largest freshman class in several years and also anticipates this year’s total enrollment will exceed last year’s.

Unlike many other freshmen, Ja’na Speller, 18, was not moving in on Friday. That’s because she arrived two weeks ago for band camp. She will be in the band as a dancer.

By attending ECSU, Speller, who graduated from Southeast High School in Raleigh, is following a family tradition.

“My mom came here, and my brother,” Speller said.

Speller plans to major in sociology and has not yet decided on a career. She said she’s looking forward to meeting new people and said her biggest challenge will probably be keeping her grades up while also participating in band.

ECSU Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Gary Brown said activities for new students over the weekend included a chancellor’s reception Friday afternoon, a kickoff party Friday night and community service projects on Saturday. Students were slated to volunteer at Food Bank of the Albemarle on Saturday and also package school supplies for students at J.C. Sawyer Elementary School.

“We want them to be engaged and understand that being in college is more than just being a part of this community, internal to the campus, but there’s also a community external to the campus and we want our students to be involved in the community as soon as they move onto the campus,” Brown said.

Dixon commended ECSU staff for doing a good job of getting residence halls and other facilities in top shape for students’ arrival.

“We wanted to guarantee that our students were moving into a residence hall that was ready for them, because something I’m pushing is that our students will love where they live and learn,” Dixon said.

Brown echoed Dixon, saying he, too, appreciated the work done to get residence halls and other buildings ready for students to move in.

“We want our students to have an excellent experience from the very first moment they come on campus,” he said.