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Orientation welcomes students from WVU Tech's first Beckley class

attendees listing to greeting from campus president Long

On Saturday, August 6 at around 2:30 p.m., more than 100 new WVU Tech students gathered at center court in the Van Meter Gymnasium on the University’s Beckley campus. The students were still two weeks away from officially starting their academic careers, but that afternoon, they were already working as a team.

When Associate Dean of Students Emily Sands yelled “ships,” the students walked in one direction. At the cry of “islands,” the laughing crowd shifted, awkwardly bumping into one another and helping others to reverse course as quickly as possible. When Sands called out phrases like “man overboard” or “walk the plank,” the crowd scattered to act out each command in groups. Those students who didn’t find a group fast enough were out.

Sands called the game “Ships and Islands,” and it served as an effective ice-breaker for the students who attended the University’s first orientation program on the Beckley campus.

The six-hour program is designed to connect students to university resources and familiarize them with campus in preparation for the start of classes on Wednesday, August 17.

New students met with orientation leaders who walked them through common college situations, academic policies and campus resources. Orientation leaders also led students on individualized tours to familiarize them with where they would need to be for the first day of classes.

For Scarlett Farley, an incoming criminal justice major from Beckley, the program was a chance to get a leg up on that first week of classes.

“It’s comforting to know that when I start classes here, I’ll be a little bit more comfortable than I would not coming to orientation. I know where I’m going and where to find what I need,” she said.

Psychology student Brandon Raywarwick said he was impressed with the campus accommodations, particularly the single rooms students will enjoy in the residence halls. Raywarwick said he wants to go into psychology to help children and that he’s excited to learn in the Beckley campus environment.

“It’s just a really good university. The people here are really energetic and positive. Everyone’s been helpful. I guess they’re really preparing me for being away from home for the first time and to be ready for the classes,” he said.

Halee Harrah drove in for orientation from Meadow Bridge, West Virginia. The incoming biology student said she wants to go into pediatric medicine and that she’s excited to start her higher education career close to home.

students playing rock paper scissors

“I don’t really want to go far away from home because I get homesick. I still want to be part of West Virginia University, but I don’t want to go all the way to Morgantown,” she said. “The Beckley location is a lot more accessible for me. It’s also smaller, so I like that about it.”

Harrah said she was nervous about splitting off from her high school friends, but that she feels comfortable tackling the college experience at WVU Tech’s new campus.

“It’s a lot easier getting everything lined up than I thought it would be. I feel like my schedule is going to work out really well. All of the buildings are close and all of my classes are in the same two buildings,” she said.

Wyoming County native Matthew Perry starts at WVU Tech in August. The civil engineering student spent the afternoon pantomiming “man overboard” with his fellow newcomers and learning about campus resources.

“I’ll be spending time on both campuses, really. I have a drafting class one day a week in Montgomery, but the rest of the time I’ll be here,” he said.

Matthew’s mother, Mona, said the family has been along for every step of Matthew’s college prep. They’ve toured both campuses and attended a variety of registrations and other events. Perry said she’s been pleased with her interactions with the University during the process.

“They were helpful in working out his schedule so he could start here. We feel very comfortable sending him here. Now it’s on him because he’s the one who is going to have to do all the hard work to accomplish his goals,” she said.

Matthew’s father, Keith, earned his electrical engineering degree at WVU Tech. He didn’t hesitate at the thought of sending his own son into an engineering program at the University.

students in classroom information session

“When you get out into the industry and people find out you’re from Tech, you’re good to go,” he said.

Parents and family members like the Perrys attended a session to learn about what to expect in the academic year ahead. They spent the afternoon meeting with University representatives and exploring campus resources.

Rebecca Keaton and her family brought her son Luke to orientation. Luke will start his degree in history and government on the Beckley campus. For mom, it’s the best of both worlds.

“It’s nice to have him at home, but he can still take part in things such as the Tech Adventures program. He plans to do that and to join various groups on campus so he can live at home yet still be active on campus as well and have that exposure to campus life,” she said.

Keaton said her family is excited about the new campus. Her husband, a WVU Tech alumnus, is part-owner of a local engineering firm and is looking to build a relationship with the University. She also said that there is exciting economic potential for the region and the campus alike.

“I just think this is going to be a positive for this campus. There are a lot of good things that this town has to offer. It’s going to help the community drastically, too. The businesses in this area and the people that own little mom-and-pop shops around will see an increase in business,” she said.

In the evening, students enjoyed dinner in the Bears Den and wrote thank you notes to first responders who contributed to flood relief efforts throughout Southern West Virginia.

Beckley students will join the rest of the student body on the Montgomery campus on Saturday, August 13 for the University’s official convocation ceremony. The ceremony is part of a three-day orientation program on the Montgomery campus.

Find out more at Check out photos from Saturday’s event on Flickr.