Thursday may have been the 60th first day of school at Stan State, but for 18-year-old Michelle Monroy of Atwater, it was unique.
The freshman, who plans to major in biology, was a bundle of nerves as she made her way to the campus for her first day of classes.
“I was driving here and I was super nervous,” Monroy said. “I was afraid big time. I was listening to music to calm down and also trying to pump myself up. Then I got to my first class and it was fine. It seemed normal.”
By noon she’d run across three friends from Atwater — including fellow members of the Class of 2019, Juan Del Toro and Serafin Martinez — and Monroy was all smiles.
The nerves had given way to relief, but she wasn’t the only member of the freshman class — at 1,607 students the largest in Stan State history — to feel butterflies.
“It was a little nerve-wracking,” said Del Toro, Monroy’s friend who lives in Winton. “I was kind of scared. There are so many people from different origins and different places that I’m not used to.”
As members of the University Student Center dished up free pancakes and the Associated Students, Incorporated poured free coffee on the first day, the Quad, with music blaring, was a reflection of all types of people rushing to their classes.
New students had been helped along by staff and student volunteers at six welcome tables set up at campus entrance points by Student Leadership and Development.
The first-day jitters go beyond finding the right classroom, as upperclassmen say.
“To this day it’s so nerve-wracking the first day,” said senior Justin Flores, 20, a criminal justice major from San Jose. “You don’t know what to expect. It’s new people, new professors, new students, new classmates. The atmosphere is different every year. You have to find a way to adjust to it. Even though it might be my fourth year, it still feels like my first day here, or at least I remember what it was like to be new.”
So does fellow senior Emily Davis, a psychology major.
“My first year was really overwhelming,” Davis said. “I didn’t even know how to pronounce the names of the halls. Now, I know that hall’s over here, second floor, make a left. I feel like I can navigate the whole campus.”
And, when she sees someone who looks lost, she offers assistance.
“I can always tell a little panic look,” Davis said.
Freshman Jose Loza, 18, wasn’t panicked, and said it felt like a typical first day of school, but he was a bit nervous, “because I don’t know a lot of people.”
The son of Mexican immigrants, neither of whom graduated from high school, Loza hopes to join his sister as the second member of his family to graduate from Stan State.
Despite being a veteran of first days, senior Rachel Choate said she still gets jitters.
“I’ve been here a while and I still get a bit nervous, but I know it’s going to be fine,” Choate said. “I’m ready. I enjoy starting new classes. It’s my favorite time of the year.”
For the freshman Del Toro, it’s special, too.
“It feels kind of nice,” Del Toro said. “I got something out of my chest knowing I already graduated high school. That was (one) of the biggest steps. Now, I’m ready to take even bigger steps to reach my career.”