Special to the News-Journal

New East Texas Baptist University students this past week got a little help from their new friends while moving onto campus with an emphasis on a commitment to mentorship and spiritual growth.

ETBU welcomed new students and their families to campus for Tiger Camp, ETBU’s Welcome Week, this past Wednesday and returning students on Saturday. Faculty, staff and athletic teams assembled outside residence halls across campus in the early morning to help new students move in. Each volunteer wore a shirt that said, “Fan the Flame.”

“To fan the flame, we must teach and equip our students to serve Jesus with a fiery passion,” ETBU President J. Blair Blackburn said during his Fall Summit Chapel message to faculty and staff. “When we fan a flame, we give the flame more fuel, more energy. The fire will burn more intensely. Likewise, God’s gifts to us must be fueled by His grace through our prayer, faith, obedience and diligence. We must use these gifts to fan the flame of the students God has set before us.”

According to a news release from the university, greeting new students and their families at their loaded vehicles on Move-in Day, helped ETBU faculty, staff give new students a positive first experience on The Hill.

“This is the first time I’ve seen students come in with their parents and having the whole community here to help them,” said new Assistant Professor of Communication Studies Dr. Angela Anima-Korang. “I think it really helps them to settle in here because everyone is happy and willing to help. I look forward to acclimating myself to the campus and I’m excited to get to know the students and help them meet their goals.”

Incoming freshman and new transfer students checked in to their life on The Hill on Move-in Day. Reporting students said they felt excitement, nervousness and anticipation.

“I’m excited to start college and meet new friends, but I’m also nervous because it’s kind of like starting over,” incoming freshman and math major Landry Pedroza said. “I like how Christ-centered it is at ETBU, and I’m looking forward to meeting new people.”

Landry and his twin sister and freshman organizational communication major Kathryn, were accompanied by their mother, who, like most parents, expressed her mixed emotions on move-in day.

“I’m excited that Landry and Kathryn will be together and close by, and that they can look out for each other,” Kim Pedroza shared. “I’m feeling all the mom emotions, we’ve been working towards this but it’s still hard. I’m excited to see how they will grow into adults and grow in the Christian walk. It’s a new phase, but it’s the right phase.”

To help new students ease into college life and connect with other students, these new students participated in Tiger Camp — an ETBU tradition that welcomes incoming freshman and transfer students into the ETBU family where they are given an opportunity to meet campus leaders, staff, professors and others.

“When I look back at when I was a freshman, the upperclassmen welcomed me in with open arms and made me feel at home,” Tiger Camp Leader and senior child development major Gloria Baker said. “I want to be able to do that for this year’s incoming students, to let them know that this is their new home away from home and that they are going to thrive.”

All students kicked off the 2019 fall semester on Monday.