East Tennessee State University’s centennial semester officially began this weekend, but most students arrived on campus for their first classes Monday.
ETSU students Haley Bryant and Jennifer Sanchez are friends who graduated from Science Hill High School this year. Right now they are undeclared majors, but both women were excited to begin college, they said as they walked across campus Monday morning looking for their classrooms.
“We would still go to school here even if it had been around for 99 years,” Sanchez said with a big grin.
“I think we’ll like it better than high school,” Bryant said when asked if she was happy to be finally be attending college.
Sanchez said the biggest change from high school was in the size of the campus.
“It’s just hard to find everything, I guess,” Sanchez said of her first day on campus. “Once I get, like, used to everything it’ll be a lot easier. I won’t just be wondering around lost.”
Helping new and returning students find their way around campus was Kathy Kelley, who works in ETSU’s procurement and contract services office. She was one of a group of ETSU employees who had volunteered to set up at various places around campus to offer help on the first few days of the semester by answering questions and handing out maps. By 8:30, about 25 students had asked for her assistance, she said.
“We welcome students and this is a way of addressing some of the questions they might have,” Kelley said.
Rachel Elkins transferred to ETSU from Walters State Community College in Morristown, where she was studying dental hygiene. She is continuing that course of study at ETSU.
“I want to help people,” Elkins said. “I don’t really want to do nursing, so I guess the next best thing would be dental hygiene.”
Besides the dental hygiene program, Elkins had another reason for choosing to attend ETSU.
“I have a lot of friends and family that are up here, so that’s why I decided to come here,” Elkins said.
Ashley Kisiah, an ETSU junior who transferred here from Florida’s Manatee Community College, also has connections to Johnson City.
“Originally, I just wanted to get away from Florida,” Kisiah said of why she came to Tennessee. “I had some friends up here, so I moved up about two years ago and I have residency now, so I decided to come back and finish my degree.”
She is majoring in art and psychology with the goal of becoming a high school art teacher and guidance counselor.
“I love school,” Kisiah said. “I love learning. It’s just really some place I like to be.”
Damian McClintock is also a transfer student. He has attended school in several places before arriving for his junior year this semester at ETSU. He has become somewhat of a veteran at navigating all the various offices in a university.
“I just got out of the housing office,” McClintock said. “And got to go to the dining office and library to see that for the first time, so definitely a lot of stuff to do, a lot of offices to visit.”
The wandering to and from office to office is only a part of college, said McClintock, who wants to be a psychologist. The real work and purpose of college is in the content of the classes, he said.
“I want to be a psychologist and be able to help people,” McClintock said. “And I know to be able to help people I need to get a certain level of education. And I’ll do what it takes to get that education.”