Blue Jay Families at the Pies and Goodbyes event

Credit: Will Kirk / Johns Hopkins University


A fresh start for first-year students

New students settle in on campus and participate in Orientation events, and also bid farewell to loved ones at the annual Pies and Goodbyes event

As she and her husband helped settle their fifth and youngest child into her residence hall at Johns Hopkins University, Rose Rinaldi from Greenwich, Connecticut, knew the drill: help when asked, be available for trips to Target, and give her daughter room to be independent and make new friends.

She also knew it would be a bittersweet moment when it finally came time to say goodbye.

"I'm just so happy for her, because she worked so hard to get here and she's ready," Rinaldi said. "But even with four other children already through school, it's still hard to leave her. But I got a text message after her first night saying 'I had sooo much fun' with a lot of Os, so I know she'll be fine."

Patsy Anderson, from Hamlet, North Carolina, said she was anxious about leaving her son, Alex, but it was reassuring to see how quickly he bonded with his teammates on the baseball team.

"He's with a really good group of guys, and they already seem like they've known each other forever, so that feels good," she said. "There's just so much you learn at college besides what they teach in the classroom, and I think the bonds he'll make here will be priceless."

It was a whirlwind weekend for new students and their families as they took part in Orientation activities on Saturday and Sunday. During a kickoff pep rally Saturday night, first-year students clustered together in small groups on Homewood Field to meet with upperclassmen who introduce them to the culture of Johns Hopkins through the First Year Mentors program. On Sunday, students and parents broke out into separate groups to learn about academic and student services.

Video credit: Christian Imbesi

Kesha Williams, director of Parent and Family Relations in Homewood Student Affairs, says the separate orientation program specially designed for families helps familiarize parents with the university's resources.

"When students leave for college, their families go through a transition, too," Williams says. "Family Orientation is an opportunity for parents to learn about the Hopkins culture and support services that are available to their student. By partnering with our Blue Jay Families, we support our students holistically and ensure they can make the most of their college experience."

During the Pies and Goodbyes event on Keyser Quad on Sunday—which included trail mix, fruit, coffee, and featured the popular "Baltimore Bomb" flavor from Dangerously Delicious Pies—parents and students shared last-minute bits of advice and tearful hugs.

A new student poses with two family members
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Nicole Cunningham, from New York City, said it helped ease her mind knowing that her son, Kareem, is fully prepared for university life.

"He's always been independent and responsible, but he's still my child, so it's a little hard," Cunningham said. "I hope he gets to explore his interests and meet people from different walks of life."

Students didn't have much time to dwell on goodbyes, however. For them, Sunday's festivities ended with the Hop Block Party on the Beach and Freshman Quad. With activities like ping pong, mini golf, glow tables, and inflatable obstacle courses, a DJ, and food trucks hawking cupcakes, snowballs, donuts, and ice cream sandwiches, college life was off to a sweet start.