By TYLER ELLYSON
KEARNEY – Chad Bice had mixed emotions Monday morning as he helped his daughter Morgan move into a residence hall on the University of Nebraska at Kearney campus.
“It’s tough seeing my only daughter go off to college,” he said.
That’s the difficult part of move-in day.
Even though UNK is just two hours from the Bice family’s home in Hickman, that first goodbye is never easy.
On the other hand, every parent understands it’s an essential step toward adulthood.
“I’m very proud of her,” Bice said while standing outside his daughter’s residence hall room. “I’m very proud of her for coming to UNK and chasing her dreams. She’s done a lot of hard work to get here.”
Morgan, who also got a helping hand Monday morning from younger brother Cooper, will begin classes next week in UNK’s pre-nursing program. The Norris High School graduate is excited to be on campus and ready to resume in-person learning after a spring term altered by COVID-19.
“That means a lot,” she said of UNK’s decision to hold on-campus classes this fall. “I think it’s important that we’re here and together, because that’s how you build a community.”
A strong sense of community is what she’s most looking forward to at UNK.
“I’m a socially active person, so I like meeting new people and trying things I haven’t tried before,” Morgan said, noting that she’s particularly interested in intramural sports and Christian Student Fellowship.
More than 1,400 students are expected to live in UNK residence halls this semester. Most of them will move in this week.
To limit crowd sizes and promote social distancing, UNK extended this year’s move-in dates over eight days, not including early arrivals such as band and Fraternity and Sorority Life members. Residence Life also implemented several safety measures, such as limiting students to two guests each during move-in, requiring masks in common areas and increasing sanitization.
Another change – offered for the first time – gave all UNK students, including incoming freshmen, the option to live in a single residence hall room without a roommate. Typically, about 400 students receive single rooms, but that number will be close to 700 this semester.
“Next to graduation, one of the biggest days for college students and their families is move-in day. We kept that in the forefront of our minds when planning for this year,” said George Holman, associate dean of student affairs. “We were able to develop a plan that keeps people safe, while also remembering this is a big day for everyone involved.”
With the additional move-in dates, Holman noted, the entire process seems to be less stressful on students and their families.
Matthew Robinson and his father Michael certainly looked relaxed as the UNK freshman moved into his residence hall.
“I’m really happy and excited to start something new out here,” said Robinson, who is attending UNK on a football scholarship.
The Colorado Springs native will study business administration and play defensive back for the Lopers. Although the coronavirus pandemic suspended UNK’s fall football season, Robinson sees an opportunity to grow in other areas this semester.
“I’m glad I get to experience this still,” he said. “I get to interact with different people and develop new connections in my life. I’m very appreciative of that.”
Michael may live 6 1/2 hours away, but he knows his son is in good hands at UNK.
“He’s very mature,” Michael said. “I’m proud of him, and I’m thankful and grateful for the University of Nebraska at Kearney for giving us this opportunity.”
The doting father – dropping a child off on a traditional college campus for the first time – did a good job of keeping his emotions in check during move-in.
“I feel like I’m ready,” Michael said, “but when I drive off this campus and start heading toward Colorado it might be a little different.”