- Associated Press - Thursday, September 24, 2015

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. (AP) - Incoming freshman Jeremiah Grospe smiled as he pulled luggage across one of Oregon Tech’s parking lots with his parents, Jeffrey and Susan, in tow Wednesday morning.

The 18-year-old led them up the stairs where the couple helped their son unpack, and set up his new space at the polytechnic university.

With a campus bustling with new students and their families moving in and checking out the university, all signs on Wednesday pointed to an upcoming new fall term that starts on Monday.

“We’re missing him already,” said Jeremiah’s dad, Jeffrey, as he was helping his son move in.

Jeremiah is a Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) student from Oahu, Hawaii, and one of about 500 students expected to move into the campus dorms through Sunday, according to Resident Assistant Zach Horton, who helped Grospe check in before taking his parents up to his new dorm room.

Grospe said he chose the university for a number of reasons, including the university’s mechanical engineering program for the available price tag. But there were other reasons, too.

“I wanted someplace cold,” he said. “It’s too hot in Hawaii.”

At nearly 80 degrees in Klamath Falls on Wednesday, students got acclimated to the sunshine as well as their new home. The week before fall term starts is a time students can get to know their surroundings and get connected on campus right away. Student volunteers staffed booths and provided food for the newest Oregon Tech freshman class.

Oregon Tech junior and student volunteer Kamille Auger handed out cotton candy at one booth, sharing thoughts about the shock students can face when going away to school.

“I was a little nervous and scared,” Auger said, of her experience transferring to Oregon Tech from the University of Oregon. She is originally from the Portland area.

“I went from a school with about 30,000 to roughly 3,000 - that was definitely a shock.”

Fourth-year medical imaging student Emi Partridge also helped out with welcoming the new freshmen and remembers what it was like herself coming to Klamath Falls from Eugene.

“We do our best to encourage (them) to be involved,” Partridge said, after taking a bite of bubble gum cotton candy. “We try and make them feel included and that we’re happy to have them at Oregon Tech.”

Students and their families were greeted at nearly every turn by volunteers available to help them move in, lead them in the right direction, or just to share a conversation.

Freshman volunteer Aydin Kelter, is part of First Year Experience (FYE), a program which aims to get freshmen involved on campus right away though volunteer work and activities.

A native of Eagle River, Alaska, Kelter is also a WUE student and decided he wanted to help other students coming into college from the get-go.

“We’re all just as nervous as everyone else is here today,” Kelter said, “but after getting to know each other and getting to know staff, we’ve been able to really connect and learn and we want to share all that experience with everyone else who’s coming in.

“All of the staff around here are doing their absolute best to make it feel like a home,” he added.

Kelter greeted Jeremiah and his parents as he stopped by the dorm room to see if help was needed.

As Jeremiah set up his new home away from home, he also met his roommate, Brian McCaslin, of Portland, who stopped in to meet Grospe. McCaslin, like Grospe, is also looking at mechanical engineering as a major.

“I’ve already figured out where my classes are,” McCaslin said.

Outside, the scenes of move-in day continued around the campus.

Brittany Scott, 18, and her mom, Debbie, rolled luggage toward Brittany’s new dorm room.

The future radiology student and her mom beamed even after a five-hour drive from Canby.

“I’m excited for her,” Debbie said. “We’re both going to cry a lot.”

David Kirkendall took a photo of his sister, Rachelle Woolley, and 4-year-old nephew, Jace, with Hootie the Hustlin’ Owl, Oregon Tech’s mascot. Kirkendall is a freshman and plans to study computer engineering at OIT.

Kirkendall’s mom, Trina, of Medford, stood nearby, talking about what it would be like to say ‘goodbye’ to her son before burying him in an embrace.

“This is home now,” he said.

___

Information from: Herald and News, https://www.heraldandnews.com

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