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The Greyhound

The Student News Site of Loyola University Maryland

The Greyhound

Fall welcome weekend highlights the dynamic between first-years and evergreens


On August 30,the Hillside residence halls teemed with the laughter of the new students and the stressed conversations of their parents. Resident assistants stapled words of wisdom onto each floor’s cork board while hauling the first-years’ furniture up the buildings’ treacherous stairwells. Maryland’s humidity stuck to the windows as the first-years stuck pictures of home on their walls. Teary goodbyes commenced, new friendships formed, and Fall Welcome Weekend officially began.

Moving away from home is one of the most difficult tasks any first-year student faces in his or her adult life, and Loyola strives to alleviate any of the pressures its new students encounter. One of the many ways in which Loyola achieves this is through the Evergreen program, an organization of student leaders who support first-years through their academic, social, and personal transition to Loyola. Throughout Fall Welcome Weekend, the Evergreens accompany the new students to various events and group reflections to build a strong sense of community amongst the Class of 2022.

Evergreens pose for a photo before Casino Night

One of Loyola’s first-years, Michael Devereaux ’22, arrived at Loyola feeling nervous but eager to start a new chapter of his life.

“Although moving into my new dorm was wonderful, Loyola didn’t feel like home right away because I was still trying to adjust to the new atmosphere,” Devereaux said.

The Evergreens assisted the students and their families with move-in, which evoked some nostalgia for their first years of college. Kiersten Pedersen ’21, a newly-inducted Evergreen, reflected on move-in day from a different perspective.

“Returning to campus felt like I was returning home,” she said. I loved my first-year experience at Loyola, so I was absolutely pumped to come back and help the incoming students like my own Evergreen helped me.”   

Sophomore Brendan Sweeney assists the first-years during Move-In Day

After settling into his new home, Devereaux left his dorm to partake in the weekend’s activities, starting with  meeting his Messina group.

“My favorite activity during Welcome Weekend was the meetings with my Messina group and my Evergreen Chiara Maalouf ‘20, because it helped me start building friendships,” he said. “I also really enjoyed the soccer game because it gave me, [who] really isn’t that interested in sports, a chance to experience something out of my comfort zone with new people.”

Evergreens also attend these events with the goal of creating a welcoming, comfortable atmosphere for the new students. Pedersen explained that Welcome Weekend’s activities are strategically planned so that each student spends quality time with his or her respective Messina Groups.

“Whether we were playing games, participating in ice breaker activities, or just talking casually as a group, I enjoyed watching Loyola’s new students bond and build new relationships,” she said.

Evergreen deals for first-years during Casino Night

Pedersen also revealed her own doubts about returning to Loyola as an Evergreen. Integrating into a tight-knit community of students intimidated her, but she ended up making some meaningful friendships within the Evergreen staff.

“The first time I remember really feeling a close connection to the other Evergreens was at Lock-In. We weren’t allowed to leave for 7 hours, and we did different bonding activities to get to know each other. I really enjoyed it, and I felt extremely close to every single person,” she said.

The bonds the Evergreens form with one another resonate with the first-years. The student leaders understand and respect their roles as Evergreens and genuinely enjoy helping the new students adjust to life at Loyola.

The team’s hard work rarely goes unnoticed. Devereaux expressed how the Evergreen staff positively impacted his first few days at Loyola.

Messina group takes a photo with their Evergreen on the Humanities porch

“I loved my Evergreen’s friendliness, high-energy, and advice about everything at Loyola,” he said. “She encouraged us to have our meals together so that we could get to know each other better. I am so excited to have her as my Evergreen for the rest of the year.”

The Evergreen staff embraces after a long week of training

The first-years also greatly affect the Evergreens. Pedersen explained how her experience with the first-years helped her realized that every student has a different outlook on college. Some students are excited to be living in a new place, but others may be intimidated, upset, or doubtful. Learning about these different viewpoints strengthened Pedersen’s ability to assist the students with various issues.

“On my first day alone, I met students who were homesick within one hour of arriving to campus, students who had questions about Loyola’s website or where to go for classes, and students who couldn’t be more excited to be coming to a new place,” she said. “Seeing all the different types of people coming to Loyola really made me feel like all of our training and hard work was totally worth it.”

Fall Welcome Weekend allows Loyola students—whether first-year or returning—to build new relationships and learn more about the university and themselves. Amidst the chaos of move-in day and the ambivalence about starting classes, every student who participated in this weekend found a new meaning to their career at Loyola.




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Fall welcome weekend highlights the dynamic between first-years and evergreens