'Honk if you're excited': York College welcomes freshmen

Alyssa Jackson

The air was tense with nerves as freshman Andrew Fare introduced himself to his new roommate for the first time.

"I'm Andrew," he said, shaking freshman Greg Plachno's hand. Then they both did their own thing, unpacking in a frenzied manner with their family members. Plachno's mother, Wendy Sonstrom, busied herself with making his bed and stressing about the lack of closet space.

"We'll get you some shelves from Walmart for under your bed," she reassured her son.

"We've already got a Walmart list going," Fare's dad, Ed Fare, said to a room full of laughs. A window fan made the list as the cramped room grew hotter with the crowd of people in it. Cheers erupted when Andrew Fare finally found the small tower fan he'd packed away and plugged it in, offering an insufficient breeze.

York College welcomed approximately 916 freshmen Friday with cheers, claps and a lot of excitement. As freshmen and their families drove up to the college, they were met with a "hype crew" — a handful of orientation leaders holding signs, shaking cowbells and cheering for the cars to honk if they were excited.

Liam Egan, a junior intelligence analysis major from just outside Philadelphia, first got involved with freshmen orientation last year because he loved his own orientation so much. Now he enjoys the experience as an orientation leader, helping students adjust to college life and get to know one another.

"I like meeting the incoming students and seeing them make friendships and become a part of campus," he said, pausing every few minutes to cheer at passing cars and encourage them to make some noise.

Rachel Lugo, a senior studying political science who has been involved with orientation for three years as a leader, was also part of the welcome crew. She said the whole orientation crew is enthusiastic in hopes of making the new students feel comfortable. If she had one piece of advice for freshmen, it would be to get involved.

"I encourage my orientees to sign up for at least three clubs," she said. "It really makes or breaks your college experience."

While the orientation staff attempted to get students as excited as they were, parents were adjusting to the idea that they would be leaving their babies at college for the first time.

Sue Shatto, mother of Megan Shatto from Middletown, Pennsylvania, said the day caused a rush of emotions for her.

"I'm excited for her, and I'm nervous," she said. "I've got all the emotions going."

Other parents, like Sonstrom, were fighting back tears while helping their children unpack. Sonstrom and Plachno are from Bristol, Connecticut, and Sonstrom was worried about leaving her son so far from home.

"He's never been away from home, especially this far," she said.

Ronni Fare, Andrew Fare's mother, echoed this sentiment.

"He's my baby," she said. "I'm devastated. He's my only son."

The nervous excitement of their sons kept the parents together. Andrew Fare is looking forward to getting involved in his major, which is hospitality management. He couldn't wait to meet new people and start his classes, which include scuba diving and a Disney class. Plachno couldn't wait to learn more about computer science, his major. Megan Shatto was looking forward to taking Lugo's advice.

"I can't wait to get involved," she said, going on to say she wants to join a sorority.

Taylor Bange, a nursing student in her junior year and an orientation leader, is excited for the freshmen and the coming year.

"I love spreading our excitement," she said of the orientation team. "People come and they're nervous. We get to change that."