A small achievement marked Jharet Crawford's first day of classes at Radford University.
"I found the mess hall by myself," said the Burlington, New Jersey, freshman.
Crawford joined thousands of students, faculty and staff Monday who combed the lively Radford campus, where 2014-15 fall semester classes commenced.
At 11 a.m., Crawford, seated outside Heth Hall, had already been awake much longer than many students had gotten sleep the night before.
Earlier that morning, around 4, Crawford joined the rest of the RU Army ROTC for cycles of outdoor workouts. Through the military training program, Crawford said he has met a lot of new friends with whom he attended Student Convocation on Sunday, explored campus and helped find a place to grab food.
"It's been great so far," said Crawford, who plans to major in production technology.
He heard about RU through a representative who visited his New Jersey high school. Already knowing he wanted to enroll in a school where an ROTC program was offered, Crawford's decision to attend RU was cemented when he heard of its affordability, size and low student-to-teacher ratio.
While Crawford waited for his first class of the semester to begin, Brooke Eubank had already tackled hers – Intro to Psychology.
After class, Eubank, of New Kent, Virginia, waited outside of Dalton Hall to meet a friend for lunch. The freshman psychology major said she was nervous to start classes, but she had friends who attended RU –including her boyfriend – and was eager to make more.
Senior nursing majors Jennifer Wagoner, Sarah Hughes and Kelsey Page dined together outside the Hurlburt Student Center. Although Monday was their first day of class, the fall semester is their last at Radford University. The trio is on track to graduate this winter.
"It feels so good," said Page, who plans to return to her Virginia Beach home upon graduation.
The nursing students said their time in the classroom will end in October with final exams, and then they will begin practicums at area hospitals, working full-time with nurses to complete their degrees.