October 21, 2014  

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New School Year Gets Underway for Students at Southern Miss

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Freshman Megan Ratcliff, center, gets help with directions on the Southern Miss Hattiesburg campus from sophomores Maegan Daniels, left, and Daniel Fontenette.
Freshman Megan Ratcliff, center, gets help with directions on the Southern Miss Hattiesburg campus from sophomores Maegan Daniels, left and Daniel Fontenette

A new semester began Wednesday, August 21 at The University of Southern Mississippi, as freshmen became acquainted with their new home and returning students took the next step toward graduation.

Faculty, staff and students were positioned across the Hattiesburg campus to answer new students’ questions concerning directions and where their classes are located, while also providing information about student resources and the various campus organizations that match their interests.

Blake Daniels, a freshman from Gulfport, Miss. had met his University 101 and English 101 classes Wednesday morning. He said the Hattiesburg campus “felt like home.”

“Everyone’s really nice,” said Daniels, who hasn’t decided on a major yet but is leaning toward mathematics. “You can experience true Southern Hospitality here.”

Jaquae Preston had also attended his first two classes of the day and was looking forward to the rest of the semester. A freshman from Monticello, Miss., Preston plans to major in biological sciences.

“It’s going well for me on the first day,” Preston said. “My classes are easy to find and everyone’s really friendly.”

Megan Ratcliff, a freshman from St. Louis, Mo., stopped by on her way to class near The Hub to get directions from members of the Golden Eagle Welcome Week Crew or “GEWW Crew” as it’s more popularly known.

Golden Eagle Welcome Week (GEWW) is for new students at the university and takes place the weekend prior to the start of the fall semester. During GEWW, first-year students are divided into small groups and led by a GEWW Crew member, typically an upperclassman, who helps the new students learn about student resources, campus life and Southern Miss spirit and traditions.

GEWW also includes the traditional Painting of the Eagle Walk, among other programs, where the new students split into teams in a race to paint the walkway under the east stand of M.M. Roberts Stadium gold. The event gives the new students a chance to bond with their classmates and engage in school spirit before classes start.

“It was great,” Ratcliff said of GEWW. “A lot of us were nervous, being in a new place and away from home. But it really helped us come out of our shell and get to know each other.”

Ratcliff plans to join many of her fellow freshmen in returning to Eagle Walk to greet the Golden Eagles football team when they kick off the season Aug. 31 against Texas State University. Game time is 6 p.m.

Returning student Carrien Armstrong, a sophomore nursing major from Columbus, Miss., said it was a “joy” to be back at Southern Miss for the fall. “I love my teachers this semester and I’m glad to see my friends again,” she said. “It’s going to be a great year.”