What’s it like being a freshman at the ‘Ville? The transition from high school to college is an exciting time for students, but it can also be challenging. Freshmen not only need to adjust to college-level coursework, but they are also focused on “finding their fit” at Millersville University (MU) through joining student organizations and sport teams, and making new friends.
MU welcomed one of its largest freshman classes this fall. Approximately 1,360 full-time and part-time freshmen joined the University. The Review staff checked in with two of these newcomers—Delvys (rhymes with Elvis) Garcia Martinez and Matthew Szepanski—several times throughout their first semester to track how they’re settling into life at the ‘Ville.
Meet Delvys and Matt:
Delvys Garcia Martinez is originally from the Dominican Republic and now hails from Reading. Martinez is a first generation college student who speaks and reads fluently in Spanish, and is learning English, which has only added to his adjustment to college life.
The language was a barrier when Martinez first started at Millersville, “I want to be able to express myself, but I can’t. The language is so hard for me. I don’t know how to say all the words.”
Matthew Szepanski, from Downingtown, Pennsylvania is a native English speaker, so he’s not facing that same struggles as Martinez, but he has faced homesickness, which is common for freshmen.
“I really miss my family,” he said in mid-August.
By October, the two freshmen were starting to settle in but were still encountering new experiences. For Martinez, the food has been another culture shock.
“The worst thing for me is the food,” says Martinez, “It’s not like the food in the Dominican Republic—it’s too much different. I have gone to a SOLA (Society on Latino Affairs) gathering and joined the Spanish Club. They both have better food and I can speak Spanish to them.”
Food was also on Szepanski’s mind, and made him miss the luxuries of home. “My dad is a big cooker,” he said. “He would always smoke meat. I do miss his cooking.”
However, both men are finding their way at Millersville. Szepanski is involved with intramural basketball and flag football. Martinez now has a job at the Dr. Rita Smith-Wade-El Intercultural Center on campus and has been teaching his new friends in SOLA about Dominican culture.
“I like to dance and I taught them the Bashata, a dance from the Dominican,” says Martinez.
As they enter their second semester at Millersville, Martinez plans to be a secondary math teacher for English as a Second Language (ESL) students and Szepanski is in the Occupational Safety & Environmental Health Program.
“I know I’ll get a job,” says Szepanski.
Both students say they are happy they chose Millersville University. “I’m happy I’m here,” says Szepanski. “My family’s happy, too.”
Millersville is working hard to ensure that students like Martinez and Szepanski are able to take advantage of a diverse set of experiences, which provide them with the tools needed to become successful employees, community leaders and citizens.
Join us in the “Imagine the Possible” effort to raise $32 million in private support by 2020—all for students.