Alums recall excitement, nerves on their first days, and using lessons learned to guide first-year students
August 2023 – Those who come to Drew University have a habit of coming back and sticking around.
A number of faculty, staff and coaches began their time at Drew as students. With another school year about to begin, we asked them what they remember about their first steps on campus, and how the first day of classes still feels special.
Steph Mazzarella, Associate Dean, Student Services
My first day of classes as a first year student was a whirlwind. I remember leaving my room on Welch 2nd very early as I didn’t want to be late for class, and, in looking to kill some time, ended up stumbling on the coffee shop tucked away in The (old) Space. My first conversation once I arrived in BC for my writing class was folks asking me where I got my coffee. Seemingly meaningless but for a very nervous 17 year old the coffee was the perfect way to open up conversations with my new classmates.
It is so fun to think back to a time when I was new on campus, and in turn now when I meet our new students and ask how their first few days have been I often offer to grab coffee with them — a nod to some of my first connections on campus so many years ago.
Jill Cermele, Professor of Psychology and Associate Dean for Faculty, College of Liberal Arts and Caspersen School of Graduate Studies
My first day of classes was 35 years ago and I have ZERO recollection of it, although I do remember filling out my course preferences in hard copy and snail mailing them in over the summer. I also remember sleeping on the stairs in Mead Hall waiting on line (as opposed to “online”) to register for classes.
In my current role, the first day is really exciting; it’s wonderful to see returning students and welcome new students to the Drew community. And we know that while the transition can be challenging for both new and returning students, they have the skills to negotiate it successfully, and we are here to support them in any way that we can.
Dan Leidl, Head Coach, Men’s Lacrosse
I came to Drew in the fall of 1993, and was excited to start college. I was nervous about being in a new environment, but eased in during the warm fall days of that first semester. I recall feeling anxious on the walks between Brothers College and Holloway as I passed new people, took on new assignments and slowly became more comfortable as the semester progressed.
I am equally excited about the first day of classes now as I was then. The start of classes symbolizes a clean slate, new challenges, new beginnings, new achievements. I am looking forward to the start of this year, and all it will bring!
Stacy Fisher, Executive Director, Launch
After my first French class, I stood fidgeting outside BC-103, nervously explaining to Professor Deborah Hess that I must have been assigned to the wrong level course as there was no possible way I could keep up with the other students whom I deemed far more fluent than I. She assured me that the department’s placement test was very accurate and that I was right where I deserved to be. She promised I could drop down a level within the add/drop period, but stood firm that this would not be necessary. She, of course, was right. I kept taking French classes, was lucky enough to study in Paris, and graduated four years later with a double major in English and French.
The first day of classes now is the trailhead for every Drew student setting out on a path not unlike mine. Along the way, they will have courses that will challenge them. They will meet their own Professor Hess who will mentor them and inspire self-confidence. And they will embark on write-home-about-worthy adventures that give them real-world experience. Launch makes sure of that. As Launch’s Executive Director and an alumna, it is incredibly rewarding to know that Drew remains intentional and thoughtful about preparing students for post-graduation success.