Officially a Jet: Welcoming the Newman class of 2026

Aug 20, 2022
Newman University class of 2026

The excitement of a new academic year is palpable thanks to a weekend of activities to welcome the Newman University class of 2026.

Across campus, Newman staff and student leaders finished behind-the-scenes to-do lists to ensure that move-in day Friday, Aug. 19, was a smooth success.

Newman volunteers from Student Life, Dugan Library, Campus Ministry, Residence Life, the men’s and women’s basketball teams as well as the cheer and dance team worked together to help first-year students move into Carrocci Hall. Even a volunteer group from a local church chipped in to greet the newest members of the Newman Jet family.

“It’s thrilling to see how we’re preparing for the fall semester, getting the students engaged and ready to be a part of the Newman community,” Dean of Students Sara Mata said.

Student excitement

Valeryia Lioukina, a first-year student on the women’s basketball team, flew 26 hours from the European country of Latvia.

“I have only clothes with me and my basketball shoes were like half of my suitcase,” Lioukina said with a laugh.

Lioukina said she looks forward to building relationships with her classmates and teammates and diving deeper into subjects like English and psychology.

Valeryia Lioukina (in red) is a first-year student from Latvia.
Valeryia Lioukina (in red) is a first-year Newman student from Latvia.

“I’m a big nerd, so I like to study,” she said.

Noah Akiona, a first-year student and bowler from Oahu, Hawaii, discovered Newman through a senior on the men’s bowling team. He is excited to experience life beyond the island and pursue his degree with help from his bowling scholarship.

“I’m happy to be at Newman and I’m excited for the journey,” Akiona said.

First-year student Jaeden Roberson of Houston was also drawn to Newman through athletics. With a golf scholarship and radiologic technology program available to her at Newman, Roberson said she can’t wait for all that’s to come.

First-year radiologic technology student Jaeden Roberson (center) pictured with her uncle and mother.
First-year radiologic technology student Jaeden Roberson (center) pictured with her uncle and mother.

“Driving up here, I knew it was going to be kind of difficult,” Roberson said. “But thankfully I had my mom and my uncle here to help me, and I had a supportive coach waiting for me to get here. It just made the whole process 10 times easier. As soon as I got here, all those obstacles went away.”

A parental perspective

President Kathleen Jagger welcomed parents of first-year students during a friendly social hour in the Tarcisia Roths Alumni Center.

Errin Coffelt, mother of first-year student Aiden Coffelt, drove with her daughter from Edmond, Oklahoma, to help with move-in day. Aiden’s mom couldn’t believe what a smooth process the day was.

“I can’t tell you how much we appreciate the basketball team helping and carrying boxes upstairs for everyone,” Errin said. “It’s been a really good day.”

Video: Move In Day 2022

Roxy Casas describes orientation weekend as “a big deal.” However, she knows it is just the beginning of what will be an exciting chapter in her son Nathan Galicia’s life.

Galicia is “the baby” of the family, and his loved ones completed the 10-and-a-half-hour drive from Friendswood, Texas, to be part of his college festivities.

“On the drive, we started thinking about everything and how things are going to change,” Casas said. “To see how welcoming everyone at Newman makes us feel safer about leaving Nathan here. It’s been a little emotional, but we know it’s the right place.”

Student Nathan Galica's family attended noon Mass in St. John's Chapel during move-in day. Roxy Casas is pictured second from the right.
Student Nathan Galica’s family attended noon Mass in St. John’s Chapel during move-in day. Roxy Casas is pictured second from the right.

Dinner with students and parents immediately followed in the Dugan-Gorges Conference Center, where members of the Newman community presented to the group of more than 240.

To see how welcoming everyone at Newman makes us feel safer about leaving Nathan here. It’s been a little emotional, but we know it’s the right place.

Roxy Casas

Student body president Ian Lecki shared a personal testimony with the crowd, then led all first-year students to a Beach Bash just west of Merlini Hall. The Student Life department had a variety of activities, from sand volleyball, basketball and spike ball to a DJ, Lamphouse Photo Booth Co. and a Kona Ice truck.

Getting acquainted with Newman orientation

The class of 2026 checked in for orientation Saturday, Aug. 20, and enjoyed breakfast in the Dugan-Gorges Conference Center.

Students and parents heard from Chaplain Father Adam Grelinger, Director of Mission Effectiveness Sister Therese Wetta, ASC, as well as Director of Security Morris “Mo” Floyd. Case Bell, who serves as director of equitable access and international student services, also discussed Title IX and its role in the mission of Newman University.

Once parents were dismissed for the day, students were divided into groups and continued to learn about on-campus resources such as the Runway Learning Center, mental health services, the Financial Aid Office and Dugan Library, to name a few.

“All of our events have been centered around making sure the students know the resources,” Mata said. “We want them to know who to go to and put the names to the faces so that they’re not intimidated to ask for the resources that they need.”

Student leaders gave a full tour of the Newman campus to the incoming class, which was followed by Playfair activities in the Fugate Gymnasium.

Orientation evening rounded out with dinner and a Newman Showcase featuring the chorale, Sloppy Joe Improv Troupe as well as other talents from Newman.

Newman University class of 2026
Newman University class of 2026

It takes a village

Director of Multicultural Engagement and Campus Life Enid Ortiz said that the experience of organizing and executing the welcome back weekend has been successful.

“The community, parents, students, faculty and staff have come together to welcome these new and transfer students, and we are very proud to work as a team,” Ortiz said.

The Student Life team worked to create a weekend that would revitalize the life and vibrancy of the student experience — especially in a post-pandemic setting, Interim Director of Student Activities Kaitlyn Matthews said.

“I think between move-in, the Beach Bash and orientation, we’ve seen a lot of students mix and mingle and make new friends,” Matthews said. “I think this sets the expectation that Newman is not only a place for education but a place to live and socialize as well.”

(From left to right) Kaitlyn Matthews, Sara Mata, and Enid Ortiz
(From left to right) Kaitlyn Matthews, Sara Mata and Enid Ortiz

President Jagger challenged each Newman employee to be an “admissions, retention and graduation specialist” for the university, and Ortiz believes that “we are on a good route towards achieving that goal.”

“We are very proud of the job that we have all done as a Newman team,” Ortiz said.

View the Flickr gallery of all photos taken during orientation weekend at Newman.