Back in middle school, Richard Carter Jr., Kevin Morel and Yurka Natsagdorj made a pact: they would attend the same Manhattan high school.
In high school, they took it a step further and decided they wanted to attend the same college. And the school that drew each of them in from the start was UNH.
"It was a very hospitable environment," Carter said as he moved his things into the residence hall the friends will share. "I felt at home here when I came on my enhanced visit."
Morel and Natsagdorj will major in business, and Carter in accounting.
Having a pair of best friends to start the college journey "is essential," Carter said. "I understand the rarity of this."
The key to their longstanding friendship? "Trust," said Morel.
It was crowded and hot but merry in their room, as all of their parents and even Richard’s godfather were on hand to help unpack and see them off. "I’ve been a complete wreck between orientation and today," said Marie Carter, Richard’s mom. But on move-in day, she said a sense of calm set in.
Though the skies opened and a wild thunderstorm rolled through campus in the late morning, the mood was upbeat. A special WNHU broadcast spilled out into the quad. Students in bright red Welcome Wagon t-shirts efficiently packed moving carts, while staff in yellow t-shirts helped direct families wherever they needed to go.
Jessica Jarkowsky '14, a Soundview RA, passed out fortune cookies to students as they waited to check in. Fred Cheney III and his family were in line with a full cart and some bags. Cheney was moving into the Fire Science Living Learning Community. "I'm a little anxious," he said, "but mostly excited."
Katia Bagwell, a criminal justice major from Hamden, said she’d been waiting to get to UNH "since I can remember. I’m not nervous at all." Like Cheney, she’ll be part of a Living Learning Community, in criminal justice.
As she waited to get to her room, Gabby DeLeo said she had much to look forward to: meeting her roommate, majoring in communications and playing softball. “I’m really excited about all the opportunities,” she said.
For her parents, it was bittersweet. On the way up to UNH from Philadelphia that morning, Gabby slept. Her dad, Ed, drove, and her mom, Sheila, received text after text wishing them all luck. Ed DeLeo said Gabby is their youngest and only daughter, recruited to play softball rather far from home. Her four older brothers had all stayed local for college.
"It's a great opportunity for her," Sheila DeLeo said. "But she's my best friend. On the way up, my eyes were filling up. They’re filling up now."
This story, by Communications and Public Affairs Writer/Editor Jackie Hennessey, originally appeared in UNH Today on August 26, 2013.