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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

ODU Has Record Turnout for Admitted Students Day

By Harry Minium

Percy Payne III had a good time when he visited the University of Alabama, which not only plays great football, but also has a highly ranked business school.

Payne is the president of two student groups, plays lacrosse and works part-time in addition to making honor roll grades, so he was looking for the best.

He also visited High Point and Liberty universities.

But after seeing Old Dominion University, he stopped looking. He said he found something special here.

"Everywhere else I visited had good business schools, but I didn't see the diversity that I see at Old Dominion," said Payne, a senior at Jefferson Forest High School in Forest, Va.

"Everywhere else it seemed like it was predominantly one ethnic group. When I look around at Old Dominion I see people from every ethnic group.

"I chose ODU because I felt like I can excel in the atmosphere here."

Payne, his mother Cecelia Payne-Wright and stepfather Tony Wright were among more than 4,000 parents and prospective freshman students who gathered March 30 for ODU's annual Admitted Students Day.

Jane H. Dané, associate vice president for enrollment management, said it was the largest turnout ODU has ever had for the spring event. ODU had its largest freshman class ever enroll last fall and is hoping to exceed that number in August.

Not every student who attended has made a deposit for the fall semester, so this was like a national signing day of sorts. The University rolled out the red carpet.

Dozens of volunteers were at every corner to direct students to where they needed to be. Faculty members and advisers were present to talk with students in most of the academic facilities.

Residence halls were open for tours, and dozens of tables were set up in and around Webb Center to introduce students to every group possible, from fraternities and sororities to student health services. It was a warm day, and tubs of bottled water in ice were strategically placed around campus.

The day began with a morning assembly at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. To the delight of most students, the atmosphere was anything but stodgy. Beach balls were batted around by the crowd before speakers took the podium. Members of the Class of 2023 were introduced to the dancing and singing of "Ice Cream and Cake," a song by the The Buckwheat Boyz.

The crowd was slow to catch on at first, but prompted by cheerleaders, thousands did the dance, a tradition at ODU athletic events for more than a decade.

"Everyone was a little nervous today," Payne said. "'Ice Cream and Cake' loosened things up a bit."

"It was over the top, but it was so much fun," said Hanna Klein, a New Jersey resident who will study physical therapy in the fall. She also considered VCU, Vermont and Rhode Island.

She wants to get a master's degree in exercise science and work with the military or a sports team.

"There are so many opportunities in that field in the Norfolk area," she said. "And you can tell the University cares about its students."

Diversity, ODU's modern campus and its friendly vibe were themes with a lot of students and parents.

Klein's father, Robert Klein, said he was a little concerned about his daughter going to school six hours from home. Visiting with his wife, Maria, allayed his fears.

"It's a beautiful campus," he said. "She'll have fun here and get a good education."

Maciah Warren, a Smithfield, Va., resident who plans to major in psychology, was admitted to VCU, Virginia Tech and James Madison. Diversity, she said, was a big reason she chose ODU

"I like the environment here," she said. "It's close to home, and it actually feels like home. The people here were more welcoming than any other school I visited."

Autsin Osumi, a senior from Costa Mesa, Calif., traveled 2,339 miles, the farthest of anyone who attended the event. He also participated in a wrestling tournament in Virginia Beach. He's undecided on a college but wants to come east to walk-on to a wrestling team without a scholarship.

And it wasn't just ODU's wrestling team that attracted him.

"I want to major in business and analytics," he said. "And Old Dominion has a great program.

"It was a really neat campus and the people were really nice. I was really impressed with ODU."

He will make a decision by the end of the month.

The ride to ODU only took about 20 minutes for Julia Baylosis and her father, Dan, a first-generation immigrant from the Philippines.

Dan and his wife, Anna, will have three children in college next fall. Their oldest daughter is at the Naval Academy and hopes to become a pilot. Their son is studying architecture at Virginia Tech.

Julia, a senior at Maury High who will major in nursing, was accepted at Tech, JMU and VCU.

"ODU has a highly competitive nursing program, so it made sense for her to go here," her dad said.

She wants to live in a campus living-learning center, where classes, tutoring and study halls are melded into residence halls.

"I've heard that's the best way to develop relationships and stay focused on academics," she said.

ODU President John R. Broderick stressed the end goal of college is to graduate.

"You were accepted here because we believe you can earn your degree," he said. "And while today is an enjoyable moment, the most important thing you're going to do at Old Dominion, besides succeed academically and engage in being a citizen, is in 4 years or 4 1/2 or whatever your journey is, that you to come back to this building and walk across this stage and earn your degree.

"That's what today is, the beginning of a journey that ultimately ends back here on this stage when you walk across and hear your name called."

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