UHV eases college transition for freshmen in Jaguar Hall

Chelsey Koenning, a UHV freshman, moved into Jaguar Hall Friday.
  • JAGUAR COURT

  • The former Regency Inn is still in the process of transforming to Jaguar Court, which will house overflow from Jaguar Hall.

    The new dormitory should be completed within a few weeks.

    In the meantime, UHV President Philip Castille said ...

  • SHOW ALL »
  • JAGUAR COURT

    The former Regency Inn is still in the process of transforming to Jaguar Court, which will house overflow from Jaguar Hall.

    The new dormitory should be completed within a few weeks.

    In the meantime, UHV President Philip Castille said the university has enough facilities for students already on-hand.

  • ENROLLMENT BELOW PROJECTIONS

  • Jaguar Hall will house 179 freshmen for the upcoming school year. That number is shaping up to be less than the 400 incoming students the university had predicted.

    "This is an ongoing process. We learn each year, and we ...

  • SHOW ALL »
  • ENROLLMENT BELOW PROJECTIONS

    Jaguar Hall will house 179 freshmen for the upcoming school year. That number is shaping up to be less than the 400 incoming students the university had predicted.

    "This is an ongoing process. We learn each year, and we project, and we may be on target or a little off target one way or the other," said Don Smith, who was the interim president before Philip Castille took over Wednesday.

    Overall UHV enrollment is up, but it remains to be seen how the numbers will break down among the university's campuses, Castille said.

    Students could still be coming in over the weekend and into next week.

    Final enrollment numbers are determined on the 20th day of class.

Chelsey Koenning's brand new, black and pink life lay in an organized pile in the corner of her new home at Jaguar Hall.

"It's every teenager's dream, living on their own," the University of Houston-Victoria freshman said.

She was one of about 140 students who moved in Friday to the dormitory, which was suddenly buzzing with activity after a slow summer without students.

Koenning, her parents, 11-year-old sister and two car loads of trendy, color-coordinated dorm gear arrived to Jaguar Hall from Corpus Christi as soon as registration began at 9 a.m.

But Koenning wouldn't have to fight for the best bunk or even share her space with a roommate's decor that could clash with her black and pink theme.

She was setting up shop in a private room.

"I don't share well," she joked.

But the chatty 18-year-old certainly won't be a recluse. She said she's excited to step out of her comfort zone and meet her Jaguar classmates.

"There are going to be a lot of lifelong friends. I'll meet some really cool people," she said.

That's where UHV's director of student life and services, Lindsey Koch, comes in.

Koch has helped plan a weekend full of activities for the freshmen aimed to keep them busy and the homesickness at bay.

"Some people really miss home. Some struggle to make their own decisions. One of the biggest hurdles is making sure they feel like they belong," Koch said.

The new class' orientation, tagged Jaguar Journey, will pair freshmen with current UHV students for a weekend of games, contests, tours and advice.

Pretty quickly, any ounce of timidity will transform into comfort, with students filling Jaguar Hall's social spaces, playing ping pong, pool, or just hanging out.

"This becomes their home, so you see slippers, you see PJs, you see people who have just rolled out of bed," Koch said. "It's a lot of fun."

Koenning, who will be studying nursing and psychology, said she chose to make UHV her home because it's close enough but certainly far enough from her parents.

Her mom, Melanie Wilson joked she'd be making surprise attacks on her oldest daughter from time to time.

Wilson said she left little gifts for Koenning, one for each day of the week after she leaves.

"I'm excited, scared, nervous. But she's a good kid. You get to that point where you raised them, and now they have to move on," Wilson said.

It seemed Koenning was already getting into the groove of things after an early, busy day of moving to Victoria.

After getting her room set up, she had a quintessential college-kid plan.

"I'm going to take a nap," she said.