Welcome Week—under usual circumstances, the Administration Building would be bustling with both new and returning students as they filled the halls during Check-in. This semester, with altered procedures due to COVID-19, their excitement resonated in different locations. After they all made a quick stop by Mullenix Chapel, getting their temperature checked and face masks while remaining in their vehicles, returning students picked up their PCC Card before heading to their residence hall. New students continued their journey in the Administration Building, getting everything they needed to begin semester preparations. Another group of students began the semester, not at PCC, but in their hometowns—those taking courses online.
As students arrived, small groups of masked individuals dotted the campus: new students learning their PCC mailbox combination, a family in the Commons helping their student settle in, a group of friends catching up in The Palms. Most students had already registered for classes before arriving on campus; and with the new roommates request option on Eagle’s Nest, most already knew who their roommates would be—getting these important to-dos finished before even stepping foot on campus! In residence hall lobbies, many received assistance from IT to connect their devices to the student Wi-Fi while the Welcome Week crew helped those just arriving carry their things in.
Marra McCauley (Sr., TX) has been away from campus since the transition to online learning in March. She’s been looking forward to returning to continue college life, changes and all. “I’m excited for the opportunity to come back. I’ve missed my friends,” she said. “A lot of my friends have graduated. But the ones that are still here—it’s been really great getting to sit down and have conversations with them and catch up and laugh like we used to. The drive-thru check-in—I really liked that. I thought it was really simple and a lot faster.”
As a summer work student, Daniel Shinzato (Sr., Japan) welcomed all the new excitement of semester life. Soon, he’ll be tackling a few goals he had set for the year—finishing his college career strong, establishing a connection with employers, and strengthening his relationships with friends. “I am an introvert, and I enjoy being by myself. I do not intend to meet new people, but every single semester I meet someone new,” he said. “I am excited to figure [out] who it’ll be.”
Sophomore Abby Chiaradia’s (WA) second time experiencing Welcome Week differed greatly from her first one last year. “It’s been so nice to see people I recognize from last year. The first days of freshman year felt somewhat lonely and intimidating; it’s a good feeling to sense more quickly that I belong here, and seeing others’ excitement encourages me,” she said. “I feel proud to call this place my college, and I pray God blesses PCC’s efforts to serve their students. I’m excited to see what God will do and what memories the students will make together in all of this!”
Opening Convocation kicked off with two services Sunday night. At the start of each meeting, President Troy Shoemaker welcomed audiences to the new, although different, school year. “This is going to be a very exciting year, and perhaps it will be one of the best years of your life, if you allow God to make that for you,” he said. “There’s nothing quite so disheartening as watching a student body who you have a passion to serve go away in March, and there’s nothing quite so thrilling as to see you all come back this week. So welcome back! I know you’re eager to catch up on things since you’ve been away.”
During the service, guest speaker Dr. Rusty Smith, pastor of Mikado Baptist Church (GA), encouraged students to remain focused on God’s provisions rather than the temporary pleasures of sin. “If you have a sin in your life, whatever that is, if you have something that seems to get you and just nail you and shackle you, God isn’t surprised that you are being pulled for that. And let me tell you, if we’re going to start out the new year right, we got to make sure we are clean in our walk with God,” Smith said. “But if you’ve been born again, if you’ve been saved, you have every tool to defeat the tools of the devil—every one of them. ‘Greater is he that is in you,’ the Bible says, ‘than he that is in the world.’”
With classes underway for students on and off campus, PCC’s 2020–2021 school year has begun! Things might look and feel different, but the feeling of lively anticipation and excitement is the same as ever before. We’re looking forward to making new memories together!