Welcome, Class of 2021!

It’s all hands on deck as thousands get settled on campus in preparation for new academic year

Allissa Siekkinen, Danielle Sobkowicz and Bailey Fish

Allissa Siekkinen (left), incoming freshman from Hibbing, Minn., guides her new college roommate, Bailey Fish (right), International Falls, Minn., and Bailey’s mom, Danielle Sobkowicz (middle), into the freshmen’s new home away from home at UND in Walsh Hall. Photo by Jackie Lorentz.

Incoming UND freshman Allissa Siekkinen made for a good sentry early Saturday morning on the front lawn of UND’s Walsh Hall.

Siekkinen, Hibbing, Minn., stood guard over a collection of clothes baskets and a flat screen TV, belongings of her soon-to-be college roommate, Bailey Fish, of International Falls, Minn.

Fish, along with her mother, Danielle Sobkowicz, was busy inside getting a first look at her new home away from home at UND.

Siekkinen and Fish were among about 2,000 UND students who converged on the UND campus over the weekend for Move-in Day and associated welcome activities. As new freshmen, the roommates also are part of an incoming class that is the most academically qualified in school history, based on collective ACT and GPA data. Highlighting this class are 11 National Merit Scholarship recipients, the most at UND in 10 years.

It’s a bigger freshman class than last year, too, according to recent enrollment figures.

Balls of anxiety

Siekkinen, who plans to study marketing and sports management, is a relative veteran of campus life compared to Fish, as she was able to get her side of their room set up a day earlier.

“My brother goes here already so I knew little bit about what to expect,” Siekkinen said confidently.

Fish, on the other hand, was a ball of anxiety amid the co-ed activity swirling around here – a more typical response to move-in day for new freshman.

“I’ve got a lot of nerves but I’m super excited … excited to get started,” said Fish, who plans to study physical therapy at UND.

Marina Marzolino and Makayla Dyrdahl

Marina Marzolino (left) a member of the UND softball team, helps new UND student, Makayla Dyrdahl, with her large bean bag chair Saturday on Move-in Day. Photo by Jackie Lorentz.

Lots of help

There to help students and parents every step of the way was an army of green-and-pink-clad student ambassadors, offering a welcoming smile and a little muscle when needed. The student ambassadors comprised members of UND’s Greek Community, Reserve Officer Training Corp Battalions as well as UND athletic teams, to name just a few.

Travis Brewster, about to embark on his fifth season as head women’s basketball coach at UND, was on hand again this year to help his newest recruits gets situated. Coach Brew was supported, as usual, by his crew of assistants, Adam Jacobson; Mallory Bernhard, Katelin Oney and Jessica Kielpinski.

“We’ve been doing this every year since I started, and it goes back to when (Gene Roebuck) was on campus,” Brewster said of his legendary predecessor.

Fresh off a recent hip replacement, Brewster was on crutches so there was no heavy lifting for him. So he did what he does best – he coached the proceedings from courtside.

And making rounds again this year was UND President Mark Kennedy, First Lady Debbie Kennedy and Mayor of Grand Forks Michael Brown, handing out refreshments, hauling loads and welcoming new and returning students to the best college town in America.

UND First Lady Debbie Kennedy and President Mark Kennedy

UND First Lady Debbie Kennedy welcomes new freshman students to one of two convocation ceremonies held Saturday, Aug. 19, on the UND campus. The ceremonies signified the beginning of the freshmen’s college careers. UND President Mark Kennedy stands in the background. Photo by Tyler Ingham.

Perfect harmony

The day wrapped up with convocation ceremonies for the incoming freshman class, officially marking the beginning of their college careers.

The convocations concluded with two rousing numbers – “The Bonnie Banks o’ Lock Lomond” and The Tokens’ original “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” — by the Varsity Gentlemen, an all-male student a cappella group from UND.

UND President Mark Kennedy, who presided over the ceremonies, used the Varsity Gentlemen as an example of how varying voices in a group can come together as one. The Varsity Gentlemen, with multiple voices singing in harmony, represents our goal of becoming One UND, Kennedy said.