By August 14, 2017 Read More →

WVU Tech welcomes new students to Beckley campus


The Register-Herald

BECKLEY, W.Va. — WVU Tech welcomed more than 400 new students into the Golden Bear community at a Sunday picnic at its Beckley campus as part of new student orientation.

Incoming WVU Tech students and families lug belongings into residence halls Sunday before the school’s first official day.
(Photo by Brad Davis)

Jen Wood Cunningham, director of university relations, said the picnic was a kickoff event so families could come together to be welcomed into the Golden Bear community officially.

“Mainly, this is an opportunity for the family to have one last meal together, meet new people and be part of the Golden Bear family before they had back home,” Cunningham said. “Tonight is the last chance before students become official college students for the families to be together for a meal. It’s a very special time and we know it’s hard for families to leave their kids with us but they are leaving them in good hands.”

Cunningham said the university had more than 800 RSVPs for the family event. Several hundred of those were students, with the rest being family members, she said.

“This is a great celebration for freshmen here but also a great way to kick off our new journey here in Beckley,” she said.

This is the first year the school has been solely operational in Beckley, Cunningham said. Last year, WVU Tech had a cohort of 200 students in Beckley with 1,100 students in Montgomery. Cunningham said she anticipates WVU Tech will have 1,300 or more in Beckley for this academic year.

“This is the first time Tech will be completely in Beckley,” she said. “This is a monumental day in Beckley. Staff and faculty have worked the last 18-24 months here to transition and make this happen. Now, they’re seeing the fruits of their labor, seeing happy families who feel welcomed.”

Beckley Mayor Rob Rappold called the university’s presence in Beckley “unbelievable.”

“The vitality and vibrancy that a university campus brings to a community is just tremendous,” Rappold said. “You can look around and see the enthusiasm with parents and students. It’s just unbelievable. We’re really excited and glad to be part of it.”

Richard Carpinelli, dean of students at WVU Tech, said part of what he thinks made the transition to Beckley successful was a welcoming community.

“They’ve been so welcoming to us and there has been this desire of us to be successful,” he said. “That makes it so much easier when you enter into this as a partnership. It is a partnership that has grown over time and will solidify as we move forward.”

Rappold said he looks forward to seeing what the school will bring to the community in years to come.

“I look forward to growing together and making it a great college experience,” he said. “And hopefully, a good percentage of these young folks will decide that they like Beckley so much that they’re going to make it a home at some point.”

Alix Lamana, who is attending WVU Tech to major in civil engineering, and her parents Kathleen and Taft, came to the Beckley campus from Willow Springs, Ill. They all said they were happy to be Golden Bears.

Alix said softball was what first brought her attention to the school. After meeting one of Tech’s coaches at a tournament, she decided to visit the Beckley campus.

“I came out and visited the campus and fell in love with the school,” she said. “I fell in love with the programs you all offer and the area. It’s a different environment from Chicago but it’s a refreshing change. It seems very homey. It seems like everyone has a nice attitude of trying to help out the new students. It’s nice.”

Kathleen Lamana said she enjoyed her third visit to the campus and said she couldn’t believe the change.

“We cannot believe how much they got done since our first visit here,” she said. “We’re just impressed. The welcoming committee, just everything, were great details. … The first time, it was a ghost town. Literally, there was nothing here. But every time we came, there was a little bit more. To get here today, see the student body and staff, it was more reassuring, exciting. And real.”

Taft Lamana also mentioned the change since the last visit and said Sunday marked a bittersweet day.

“It’s exciting because she gets to start a whole new path in her career and life,” he said. “It’s sad that we’re losing our girl, or really lending her, to West Virginia.”

Madison Stone, president of the student government association and lead orientation leader, said she had been up since 7 a.m. getting everything ready for the day. She said she was excited to welcome a new class.

Stone, a public service administration major, has been coming to the Beckley campus since spring of last year and had watched the change in the campus.

“Welcoming a new class is a great feeling,” she said. “I’m a very outgoing, positive person. So, getting to share that happiness about Tech and how proud I am of Tech with the incoming freshmen is great because it gets them feeling more comfortable and excited. That’s my whole goal is making them feel comfortable.”

Students will have other activities through Tuesday. Today, students will participate in convocation, a welcoming celebration. They also can participate in service projects in 11 sites in the Beckley area on Tuesday. Classes start on Wednesday.

“It really is a way to ease into the new school year for freshmen and build friendships not only with other freshmen but also have that mentorship with an older brother or sister per se with their orientation leaders,” Cunningham said.


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