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UHV eases college transition for freshmen in Jaguar Hall

By KBell
Aug. 19, 2011 at 3:19 a.m.

All morning long students with their families line up for dorm room assignments at Jaguar Hall. Students were led through a series of stations where they picked up information for Internet access, pass keys and general information about the campus and Victoria.

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.



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