Joyous energy and palpable excitement filled campus as new students and their families arrived for move-in day on August 25. After a brief stop at the COVID-19 testing center, they drove up to the first-year quad and were greeted by a loud and enthusiastic group of returning students holding signs. “Welcome Home!” one sign announced. “Honk if you love your Mammoth!” instructed another.
Above left: Mina Enayati-Uzeta ‘25 and parents Jaime Uzeta and Amanda Enayati
Amanda Enayati, mother of Mina Enayati-Uzeta '25, teared up as she talked about moving her eldest child to Amherst from Los Angeles. “I’m feeling very emotional, because I am an immigrant American. It’s the first time in my family that someone is moving with intention,” she said. Enayati said that she'd fled the Iranian Revolution as a child, and did not have her parents to move her into college. Mina’s father, Jaime Uzeta, described the Amherst move-in as a “typical college experience,” one he had seen on TV but had not experienced himself growing up on the border of the United States and Mexico.
Top right: Jack McDermott '25 and family: father Ken, mother Maureen and brother Noah
From Yardley, Pa., Jack McDermott '25 and his family drove five hours to campus and arrived the day before move-in. His mother, Maureen, said she was emotional the night before as she thought about dropping him off. But on move-in day, she only felt excitement. A prospective statistics major and member of the baseball team, Jack was attracted to Amherst because of its campus size and smaller community. As luck would have it, his roommate, Ben, is also a member of the baseball team.
Bottom right: Neil Kapur '25 and parents Anju and Sanjiv
Originally admitted to the class of 2024, Neil Kapur '25 deferred for a year, because of the pandemic, and instead worked as a tutor and as a page at a library. Because only students could enter residence halls this year, his mother, Anju, peered through his first-floor window to help him arrange his furniture. It was a busy time for the family: the weekend before, they'd moved Neil’s twin sisters into Emory University and Oxford College of Emory University.
The class of 2025 returned from Memorial Hill after posing for a physically distanced class photo.
Divided into "squads," students played games and activities to get to know one another. Squads are small communities of new and transfer students, led by an orientation leader. Squad meetings serve as an introduction to the campus community. In one activity, students tossed around a colorful ball. The ball was covered with icebreaker-questions written in Sharpie: “What’s a good book you’ve read recently?,” “Do you have any pets?,” “What was your least favorite food as a kid?” and “Is water wet?”
President Biddy Martin welcomed the Class of 2025 and transfer students in an outdoor ceremony on the first-year quad. “There is no one who knows it all,” she said, reminding students that they do not need to be perfect; they only need to be themselves. In her speech, she spoke about the value and goals of a liberal arts education, quoting from author Bill Cronin’s essay “Only Connect.” Shortly thereafter, as part of an annual tradition, students shared the three words that stood out most to them during the president’s speech. Community was at the heart of their responses.
On Aug. 28, at the annual DeMott Lecture, Assistant Professor of English Shayla Lawson told students that failure is not the opposite of success. “What you don’t succeed in accomplishing in your lifetime is not a failure,” she said. “It is you doing your part to pave the way.” Lawson’s memoir, This is Major: Notes on Diana Ross, Dark Girls, and Being Dope, was the assigned summer reading for the 542 new students.
On Aug. 29, Opening Convocation featured almost all of its traditional elements but was held outdoors rather than in Johnson Chapel, to accommodate COVID-19 protocols.