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1,200 students begin educational journey as they move into UMKC housing

Approximately 1,200 students made the University of Missouri-Kansas City their home away from home when they moved into their apartments and residence halls Aug. 15-17.

UMKC Move-In started with Hospital Hill Apartments on Wednesday at the UMKC Health Sciences campus.

Bailey Wood, from Troy, Missouri, is a senior majoring in elementary education. Her major was dental hygiene when she entered school as a freshman. And as things sometimes happen in college, Wood learned that program wasn’t for her.

“Now I’m in my professional program and am very happy.”

Simone Gully, from St. Louis, is a sophomore majoring in biology. She’s also a pre-medical student. She chose UMKC because it’s not too far from home but not too close either.

“I heard they have a really good medical school, so I chose UMKC.” Gully said.

On Friday, amidst a sea of blue shirts, more than 1,000 students moved into Johnson Hall and Oak Street Hall. In addition to being the last day of UMKC Move-In, Aug. 17 was designated the first #RooBlueFriday of the year. It’s the beginning of an exciting weekend to officially welcome new students to the UMKC family and to welcome returning students “home.”

Ready to greet students and their parents was UMKC Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal and his wife, Sue.

Also on hand to help unload cars and haul belongings into the resident halls were another 300 UMKC students; and 75 faculty and staff, which included many top administrators. UMKC alumni and retirees provided doughnuts and beverages in the morning and lunch in the afternoon.

All the help and warm wishes were designed to make move-in easier, and to settle the nerves of students.

“I’m excited!” said Lauren Nagel from Columbia, Missouri. “I don’t feel like I have anything together. I should’ve labeled everything, but it’ll be fine.”

Nagel is a freshman entering the nursing program. She chose UMKC because of the access to many hospitals. Being familiar with Kansas City helped, since her cousin also lives here. Both of Nagel’s parents previously worked at NASA in Houston as astronauts, but she and her sister both chose different careers – nursing.

The Oak Street Residence Hall was abuzz Thursday morning, move-in day for more than 100 first-year students in the UMKC School of Medicine.

“I’ve known for a long time that I want to be a physician, and there’s not really another program like this,” said Bianca Ituarte, referring to UMKC’s accelerated program in which students can earn a bachelor’s degree and a medical degree in just six years. “I’m also excited because of all the diversity among the students.”

Ituarte, who is from St. Louis, said her parents are lawyers, and she would be the first physician in her family.

“I heard about UMKC from a dentist we know who went through an accelerated dental program at Northwestern. He said the students in the UMKC program are the whiz kids of medicine,” Ituarte said.

Another new arrival, Mauli Patel, said she also was drawn by UMKC’s six-year program.

“I have been interested in medicine at least since my sophomore year in high school,” said Patel, who is from a Chicago suburb. “That’s also when I visited UMKC.”

Like many students accepted by the School of Medicine, Ituarte and Patel went beyond their high school classes to distinguish themselves. Ituarte had an internship at the McDonnell Genome Institute at Washington University, one of just three U.S. gene sequencing centers financed by the National Institutes of Health. And Patel was active in HOSA-Future Health Professionals and its Competitive Events Program, which offers a series of competitions designed to enhance learning about health care.

The new students said they knew that the UMKC program would be rigorous, but that they already felt welcomed and supported. Each first-year student has a second-year medical student mentor, someone they can be in touch with even before they move to the campus, and who will help them throughout their first year.

“I met my second-year in June at orientation,” Patel said. “And my class has a chat room, using the GroupMe app, so we can ask questions and get to know each other.”

Her father, Mehul Patel, a software engineer, said the School of Medicine’s system and the age of smartphones made his daughter’s entry into college much different from his.

“She already knew her mentor and her roommate,” he said. “When I first showed up at college, I didn’t know anyone.”

Several School of Medicine staff members were on hand to greet and help the students, along with a big group from UMKC’s Residential Life staff. The School of Medicine’s interim dean, Mary Anne Jackson, who earned her M.D. at UMKC, greeted the first wave of students and met their parents.

Onyi Oligbo, from Lee’s Summit, was greeted by Jackson as she and her family pulled up to the curb to unload her belongings. Oligbo didn’t know she was being helped by the Dean of the UMKC School of Medicine.

It’s not unusual to find the dean of a UMKC school helping at UMKC Move-In. Volunteers from all departments and schools join in. The help was much-appreciated as students and their families experienced a range of emotions from nervousness to excitement. Many of the second-year mentors also showed up, providing moral and muscle support – and getting a chance to remember their own first-year butterflies.

“I’ve always wanted to practice medicine,” Oligbo said. “I’m very excited.”

All the attention and support wasn’t lost on Ituerte.

“This is a real community,” she said. “People look out for each other.”

Grace Kennedy, from Cathage, Missouri, is freshman majoring in elementary education. Her career goals, at least for now, are to teach third grade. He chose UMKC because it was close to home and she likes the Kansas City area.

“I’m looking forward to all the new opportunities and getting to live in a bigger city.”

Briley Lewis, from Wichita, Kansas, is a freshman at the Conservatory of Music and Dance. He also chose UMKC because it was not too close but not too far away from home.

And as for his choice in the Conservatory, “I felt it was the right place for me.”

Jahmir Swopes, from Topeka, Kansas was feeling a little nervous on Friday, but was mostly excited.

“I like the area, the atmosphere,” Swopes said. “It’s not too big, and there’s a lot going on. The city is what really drew me in.”

Swopes is a computer science major and has always been interested in technology.

“I feel like computer science has so many areas. It can take you a lot of places.”

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