In a whirlwind week, first-year students experienced their first taste of life as Tommie.
For 2021, the return of in-person Welcome Days activities gave hundreds of first-year students like Bella Stensrud the chance to connect in person with the St. Thomas community.
“Everyone has been super inviting, and it’s been a fun time,” Stensrud said as she arrived Tuesday, Sept. 7, to the Welcome Days all-campus picnic. “I feel like it’s been a great opportunity to get to know the community and the school as a whole.”
Welcome Days, designed to help students create new connections on campus, is a required comprehensive educational and social program meant to prepare the newest Tommies for success at St. Thomas.
During Welcome Days, students met in small groups to talk about sustainability, community engagement and personal safety. They got to know classmates with similar interests or backgrounds through Living Learning Communities, First-Year Experience groups and even the First-Generation Students group. The first-years had personalized digital schedules to help them navigate the agenda.
Roberto Cataño said he’s still working on remembering all the new people he met, but Welcome Days helped affirm his decision to attend St. Thomas.
“St. Thomas is big on community,” Cataño said. “I think it’s the best choice for me … It’s refreshing, now that we’re in person, I’m a lot more grateful. I’m excited.”
The incoming 2021-22 first-year students are among the most racially diverse class for St. Thomas, and the full slate of activities for Welcome Days seemed just as diverse. There were dozens of activities ranging from an outdoor headphone disco and glow-in-the-dark games and roller skating, football scrimmage, outdoor movie and activities. Even a trip to Nickelodeon Universe at Mall of America.
First-year student Maddie Elliott said she participated in the Great Tommie Get-Together, March Through the Arches and many of the other Welcome Days activities, and now, she’s more ready to take on the academic year.
“It shows how much St. Thomas actually cares about connecting you with other students,” Elliott said. “I’m really excited for this year to be in person. I think that’s going to be really good for me, academically.”
Check out these photos from Mark Brown and Liam James Doyle. Video production by Brad Jacobsen, Nick Franzen and student video intern Kayla Mayer.