By Walter Villa, Special to STU
Move-in Day 2023 brought us, among other things, Anthony Oliver, a first-year student from Vermont who arrived at St. Thomas University on Thursday morning holding luggage and a scholarship for his skill playing the “League of Legends” video game.
Move-in Day also gifted us Alexandra Fernandez, a first-year lacrosse player who wants to study criminal justice in order to ultimately become an FBI agent.
And Move-in Day blessed us with first-year student Rylee Ruch, who wants to study pre-law to become a district attorney. Ruch looked at Florida State and Florida, but she chose STU due to its smaller class sizes.
“It’s easier to learn this way,” Ruch said. “This is about new people, a new environment… new everything.”
That is exactly what David A. Armstrong, J.D., STU President, loves about working in academia.
“New energy, new smiles – being around students just keeps you young,” President Armstrong said. “The Fountain of Youth is simple – it’s being around young people. It’s that vibrancy. It’s that youthfulness.
“I hate it when the students are not on campus. When the students are back, I’m excited.”
President Armstrong was so excited on Thursday that he rolled up his sleeves, carried boxes, and pushed loaded carts transporting the belongings of incoming students.
Sometimes, that led to comical results, including items falling off one of President Armstrong’s carts that carried the possessions of new students, including some spectacular disco lights.
But, in the end, the students said they appreciated the President’s presence.
“It’s a great help,” said Sophie VanDyke, a basketball player who has transferred in from Flagler College. “I appreciate it a lot. It’s really cool of (Armstrong) coming down here and helping out.”
Oliver, the E-Sports student-athlete, has not met President Armstrong – at least not yet – but he is thrilled to be at St. Thomas University, studying computer science.
“I won’t miss winters in Vermont, being in the middle of nowhere,” Oliver said. “This is exciting. I like to travel. Being here is like traveling to a new place – just with school added.”
Fernandez, the lacrosse player from Plantation, said she had offers from schools in New York and Kentucky.
But she wanted to stay in the 305.
“I couldn’t do the cold,” she said. “I had to stay close to palm trees and sandy beaches. Plus, St. Thomas University is a welcoming place with a great law school.
“I’m a little nervous about starting college, but I’ve been preparing myself. I think I’m ready.”
Ivan Moorer, an incoming first-year student from Fort Myers’ Dunbar High, has no such apprehensions. He is at STU on a rugby scholarship, and he said he loves the atmosphere on campus.
“As soon as we walked in, we were greeted with excitement,” said Moorer, who arrived with family members by his side. “The people here are so kind, saying ‘good morning’ and things like that.
“I want to major in sports medicine, but I’m not nervous. This is nothing I can’t handle.”
Victoria Beauville, a first-year student from Miami’s Mourning High, is another student full of hopes and dreams. Her parents were born in Haiti, and she carries their aspirations, too, as she is a first-generation college student.
“I’m interested in fashion merchandising and business,” Beauville said. “My plan is to start my own business in something to do with fashion.”
President Armstrong no doubt loves to hear stories like the ones mentioned above. After helping move students in on Thursday, he met more of them at a lunch/reception on Rico Plaza, outside STU Gus Machado College of Business.
“Our campus is beautiful,” President Armstrong told the students. “But it’s much more beautiful when you are here. Everyone knows that.
“It’s so exciting when we start the school year with our new students. I met a student (today) who drove all the way down from Wisconsin. I met a student from Michigan. I met a student from Trinidad.
“We have students from all over the world. We have record enrollment for a fifth straight year. Not many schools can say that, but we have that record enrollment because people are finding out about the great things happening at St. Thomas University.”