Students move in, parents say goodbye

Katie Hammond moves stuff into Merrill with her mom, Lucy. (Photos by Carolyn Lagattuta)
Keith and Janelle Miller of Sacramento with their son, Matt, a new freshman who moved into College 9 Friday.
Chancellor Blumenthal addresses parents and family members at Friday's Parent Barbecue. (Photos by Jim MacKenzie)

Steve and Suzanne Marz of Oxnard consider themselves "three peas in a pod" with their daughter, Stephanie. So it was with a wistful kind of excitement that they bid Stephanie goodbye on Friday, the first day of freshman move-in weekend at UC Santa Cruz.

"It's something that has to happen," said Suzanne Marz, who was both smiling and struggling to hold back tears, "but it doesn't make it easier."

Many parents felt the same way as UCSC's new freshman class, which is projected to include about 3,850 students, began the process of moving away from home, hauling their stuff into dorm rooms, meeting new roommates, getting acquainted with the campus, and spreading their wings.

The majority of incoming students are from California, but there are also new students this year from 26 other states (New Mexico sent the highest number at 14) and nine countries.

Cars lined Hagar Drive all the way to the East Remote Parking Lot, and parents milled about Quarry Plaza on Friday, toting bags from Bay Tree Bookstore, while their fresh-faced new freshmen checked out the numerous booths set up in the plaza or just hung out with their parents before saying the final goodbye.

"I'm a little sad," said parent John Antonakos of San Mateo, while sitting with son Jeff in Quarry Plaza after moving him into Merrill College earlier in the day. "I'm excited for him, though."

After a moment, he added with a laugh, "I'm feeling old today, so I'm feeling sorry for myself."

Students, meantime, expressed excitement at their newfound freedom and anticipation of what lay ahead of them.

For student Matt Miller of Sacramento, UC Santa Cruz was a good choice because of its strong environmental studies program.

But also, he said, "it's relatively close to home, but far enough that I don't have to come back every weekend. And I love the ocean."

Matt's parents, Keith and Janelle Miller, felt sad but proud to see their son go off to college.

"I'm glad," said Keith. "Let him go off into the world-not just to go to school, but to start his life."

"I think he's ready," agreed Janelle. "And it's only two and a half hours away, so we're happy about that."

The campus hosted its first Parent Barbecue in the Baskin Engineering Courtyard as Friday afternoon drew to a close, attracting more than 1,300 parents and family members; a similar number attended another barbecue on Saturday. The scent of grilling food drifted over Science Hill as parents trickled into the barbecue and helped themselves to burgers, salads, beans, watermelon, cookies, lemonade, and iced tea.

The barbecue was meant "to welcome you and introduce you to some of the campus leadership and those who will assist your student throughout the year," vice chancellor of University Relations Donna Murphy told parents.

Chancellor George Blumenthal assured parents that their students had made the right choice.

"Your students are following in the footsteps of two astronauts, including the first American woman to walk in space; five Pulitzer Prize winners, including a Washington Post reporter who has won twice; and three members of the cast of Saturday Night Live," Blumenthal said. "We believe UCSC is the leading institution for undergraduate education and a top-ranked research university."

Those kinds of credentials suit parents Tom and Haydee Licari of San Pedro, who helped move their son Nicholas into Kresge College on Friday, just fine.

"He's ready to change the world," said Tom Licari with a smile.