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CCGA freshmen move into residence halls
Posted 08/22/2016 10:35AM

By LAUREN MCDONALD The Brunswick News

Earlier this week, the Garner family packed two cars with three incoming College of Coastal Georgia students, all their clothes and dorm supplies and the family's three dogs and drove eight hours from Cookeville, Tenn., to Brunswick.

The Garner triplets moved into their new residence hall suites on Saturday, along with around 300 other incoming CCGA freshmen.

Sam Garner and his two sisters, Madeline and Julia, will be starting class on Wednesday. Sam moved into the recently opened Mariner Village, while his sisters moved into the Lakeside Village residence hall across campus.

Although he said he's a little glad he was placed in a different dorm than his sisters, Sam was nonetheless happy they decided to attend the same school.

"It'll make it a little easier," he said.

Freshmen and their families were offered plenty of assistance unloading cars packed to the brim with clothes, towels, bedding, televisions and all the other essentials for a college dorm room. College staff and other community members showed up Saturday eager to help.

President Greg Aloia, pushing a giant bin on wheels, greeted students and their families in the residence hall's parking lot and offered to help carry the students' belongings up to their new rooms.

He met the Davis family right as they pulled up, offering a helping hand with their son Shuvon's bags.

As they were loading the bin, he asked about Shuvon's major and hometown. Then he introduced himself as the college's president.

Shuvon's dad, Eric Davis, said that despite the big transition, he felt comfortable leaving his son in the capable hands of the college staff and administration.

"We're happy and we're blessed to have a child attend here," he said.

And he said he knew his son looked forward to the change as well.

"You couldn't tell, but I know he's excited," he said. "It's a great school."

The freshmen will have the dorms to themselves for a couple of days to settle in and meet their fellow new students. The older students will move in Monday.

CCGA student Juliana Speer, vice president of the student government, encouraged freshmen to get involved on campus and not to worry about making friends, there will be plenty of opportunities for that.

"It can feel overwhelming," she said.

Speer, a senior, has seen the college grow since she moved into the Lakeside Village residence hall her freshman year. Witnessing Mariner Village, which opened Aug. 5, come into existence from groundbreaking to the freshman move-in on Saturday made her feel connected to the college and to the community, she said.

Most of her friends at other schools had never even met their college president, she said, much less had their president greet them on move-in day and carry their suitcases inside.

"He has such a great vision for our school," Speer said.

The students will participate in orientation programs for the next several days before classes begin, said Michael Butcher, dean of students and director of residence life and housing.

"I tell the students — hug your parents," he said, "Let them know how often you'll check in. It's an emotional time for them."

Sam Garner, despite feeling nervous and excited about the new school year, said he felt bad for his parents, as they'll be driving eight hours home alone after leaving their three children at school.

Maggie Garner, Sam's mother, said she's not looking forward to the long drive, but she's also not worried about leaving them to be on their own.

"I'm just glad they're all in the same place," she said. "But this is what we prepared them for. They've got good heads on their shoulders."

And at the end of the day, the parents left their children, who are getting their first taste of adulthood, so they could embark on their first year of college.

"This reminds me of the movie 'Jaws,'" Aloia said. "We're going to need a bigger boat."

Reporter Lauren McDonald writes about education and other local topics. Contact her at, on Facebook or at 265-8320, ext. 322.

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