Andrea Guillen wasted no time getting her new room set up in AMR II. In under an hour, she had unpacked and put away her clothes, made her bed, and adorned her residence hall space with colorful pillows, musical theater posters, a decorative garland spelling her name, and a plush purple octopus.
Guillen, a member of Johns Hopkins University's arriving Class of 2023, says she's eager to immerse herself in the Hopkins community. Back home in Philadelphia, she frequently volunteered with soup kitchens, day care centers, and other community service projects, which is why she decided to join the HopkinsCorps Pre-Orientation program.
"I wanted to meet representatives from as many Baltimore community organizations as I could so I can start the semester already having connections," she says. "I just love meeting people. Making connections is the best part of starting somewhere new."
Kevin LaMonica, also a first-year student, agrees. He first toured the Homewood campus as part of the Spring Open House Overnight Program, or SOHOP, with his mother. After sitting in on a political science class, LaMonica says his mother turned to him and said, "I think you've found your people."
While unpacking a massive black duffel bag and waiting for a crew to help him loft his bed, LaMonica spoke about his experience as deputy secretary general of the Ohio Model United Nations program. A budding political scientist, LaMonica plans to join JHU's five-year BA/MA program in international studies. He also brought his violin to campus to continue honing his musical skills—he intends to audition for the Hopkins Symphony Orchestra this fall.
As Pre-Orientation participants, Guillen and LaMonica got a head start at Hopkins last week. Today and tomorrow, they'll be joined by more than 1,300 other members of the Class of 2023 as they move into their residence halls, get to know one another, and explore the campus and community they'll call home for the next four years.
Justin Chicoi left his home in Oceanside, New York, at 4 a.m. this morning. He says he didn't sleep last night because of a combination of nerves and last-minute packing.
"I ended up packing a lot of stuff," he says. "The more I packed, the more I found myself wanting to throw more and more stuff in. It was hard to narrow it down, so I probably brought more than I need. And I kept finding stuff I hadn't seen in years, like a pair of brand new headphones. So those made it in, of course."
Ana Fahey, from Annapolis, Maryland, scoured Google checklists and YouTube videos to determine what she'd need to bring. She checked her packing list against the university's recommendations and trimmed down from there. But she was sure to bring a collection of meaningful ornaments.
"My mom has a little heart that has 'You are always loved' engraved on it, so I brought that, and then my boyfriend got me a heart from Mexico, and his mom gave me a little hummingbird ornament," she says. "So I have three things that I'll hang in my room from all my people."
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Anyone else's move-in feel something like this? ⏩ Check out how first-year students Obi and Ameerah transformed their new home into a place all their own. #JHU2023 #GoHop #johnshopkinsuniversity #premed #classof2023 #jhu Music: bensound.com
As roommates Lia Jacobs and Kayla Ghezzi unboxed their belongings and located electrical outlets to charge their phones, they bonded over a love of engineering—an interest that, for both, runs in the family.
Ghezzi, whose father is an engineer, says she enjoyed math from a young age but fell in love with chemistry and engineering while in high school. She's curious about materials science as well and says she hopes to explore her interests further while at Hopkins.
Jacobs is the youngest of four siblings, all of them currently enrolled in engineering disciplines at Hopkins. Her older sister, a senior, is majoring in chemical and biomolecular engineering and her older twin brothers, both sophomores, study biomedical engineering and mechanical engineering. Jacobs, who has volunteered at a nature reserve in her hometown for 10 years, chose environmental engineering.
"I just love nature and environmental science, but I also love engineering, so it feels like a good combination of my interests," she says.
Brittany Claridge, assistant director of Orientation and First Year Experience at Johns Hopkins, says she's not surprised new students form bonds quickly with one another. From the moment they arrive on campus, greeted by enthusiastic First Year Mentors and a chorus of cheers, to the moment their parents leave on Sunday, new students are immersed in an environment that's carefully coordinated to make them feel welcome and supported.
"We want our students to feel a sense of belonging as soon as they step foot on campus," Claridge says. "We want them to understand that they're coming into a larger community that really cares deeply about them—they have all these people who are here to support them and a whole network of resources. Everything we do is meant to make them understand that they have a place here."