The Newman University campus was buzzing once again as students arrived on Aug. 23 for a day of settling in and getting acquainted.
The 2018-19 freshman class moved into Carrocci Hall, bringing with them feelings of nervousness, excitement and anticipation. But there was another group of people there that day — the parents.
Parents spend years shaping, molding and guiding their children. Along the way, they tend to relish all the firsts that take place — first smile, first steps, first day of kindergarten, first lost tooth, first sporting experience, first day of high school, first date — and then the day when they watch their child, now an adult, embark in a new independence with college.
For parents, saying goodbye, at least for awhile, as their children become college students can be an emotional time. They might feel the same anxieties and excitement as their child, but most often the parents feel hopeful with a tinge of sadness. For some, it would be the first time they experience a child going away to college. For others, helping a child move into dorm life is something they’ve already experienced.
Single mom Tiffany Chambray had previously had a goodbye moment with her son, Damien Cason, when he joined the U.S. Army Reserve after he graduated high school. They are from Midwest City, Oklahoma, and she said she’s happy he chose Newman for several reasons: the small campus atmosphere, its Christian values and the fact that it’s not too far from home.
“Moving away isn’t new, but it’s different,” explained Tiffany. “Going into the military, you send them there, they take care of everything and then send them back.”
Two years after joining the Army, Damien is going to college. A freshman at Newman, he’s not necessarily a traditional student since he’ll have weekend responsibilities as an active Army Reserve member.
Damien is a combat medic and plans to apply for the nursing program at Newman.
Tiffany said she is happy they have family in Wichita so he has someone to turn to in case he needs someone close by.
“He is my first child to go to college,” she said. “I’m happy, nervous, a little sad. The whole experience, moving in to the dorms, is different. It feels like I’m really letting my baby go.”
Rob and Tina Langrell/Jennie and Jared Piepkorn
Rob and Tina Langrell, from Clovis, New Mexico, said they’ve already helped two daughters move into college dorms, so this was not a brand new experience for them. Tina said that doesn’t make it any easier.
“When we leave tomorrow, it will be really hard. But I know this is the next step he’s supposed to take, so I’m excited for him to be here.”
The Langrells said their previous experience did help them when it was time to begin the prep work for son Connor’s big move.
“We went to Bed, Bath and Beyond,” Tina said, “and just grabbed a scanner and registered everything we wanted to buy. We told them to have it ready to pick up at the Wichita store on the day we needed it, and it was ready to go. When we got here, we just drove over and picked it up.”
Rob said since Connor will play baseball at Newman, they plan on coming out for some of the games in the spring.
“The most important thing I want for him,” Tina said, “is to accomplish everything he is striving for, and if he fails at something, just to pick himself up because that is what’s supposed to happen right now.”
A friend of Connor’s will also play baseball at Newman.
Jace Piepkorn, son of Jennie and Jared Piepkorn, grew up with Connor in Clovis. Jace is the second child in his family to attend college, but first to move into a residence hall.
The Piepkorns said their preparation included “shopping, talking a lot and praying for peace and comfort for our son.”
Jared explained, “This is just the natural progression of things. This is what we’re supposed to do and experience. As parents, it’s our job to encourage our kids to move on and become a productive member of society.
“This is a huge step,” Jared added. “They become very different people after a college experience. I’m excited for him to have baseball while he’s here, but education is first and foremost.”
Sandrine Lisk and her son, Adrien Boydston, live in Wichita, Kansas, so move-in day for them was a different experience than others.
“I’m rejoicing with him that he’s starting this chapter in his life in such a wonderful environment so close to home,” said Sandrine. “And even though I’m excited for him, I’m also a little sad that my oldest is now moving into college. It’s very bittersweet.”
Sandrine helped prepare Adrien for his independence by having him do much of the legwork.
“One thing that I’m trying to do is teach him to be independent and not relying on mom anymore, so I had him print all the papers, do the research on what he needed to pack and reach out to the individuals he needed to contact.
“This is his chance to be his own person and find out what he likes. I believe he will do really well. I’m just excited to see what he makes of this opportunity and experience. I’m thrilled that he’s here.”