Southwestern’s Student Life team welcomed new students to campus, Aug. 18, as they moved into their dorm rooms and prepared for a busy fall. Following this successful move-in day, Student Life kicked off the semester with its annual “Welcome Week,” Aug. 18-25, and offered several opportunities for new and returning students to connect with campus community. Students came together to worship, enjoy friendly competition, and fellowship over delicious food.

“Our hope is that community will begin to be formed in the early days of the semester for these students,” says Student Life coordinator Callie Jennings. “We don’t want them to be alone and wishing they could go back home, but we want them to see the life and community that can be found here at Southwestern.”

The annual event included something for everyone. New dorm residents were treated to a Tex-Mex dinner on Friday, Aug. 18, followed by a dessert fellowship Saturday night. Once students were settled in to their dorms and apartments, women’s and men’s dinners were hosted the following Monday, which allowed students from across campus to catch up with old friends and make new friends over a meal, as well as meet many of their professors.

New to this year’s Welcome Week festivities was a special student worship gathering, Aug. 22, with music led by the worship team from Cross Church in Haslet, Texas. More than 120 students gathered to worship together in song, pray and hear a message from Daniel Dickard, dean of student services.

Bachelor of Arts student Abigail Simonds says the student night of worship was her favorite event of the week. “It was such a privilege worshiping together through song, the preaching of the Word, and prayer,” Simonds says. “I will never forget seeing both undergraduate and graduate students congregate together and pray over the faculty, the student body, the nation and the mission of Southwestern.”

Jennings says Student Life hopes to make this gathering a tradition and eventually make it an entirely student-run event. “We hope to utilize our own students for all aspects of this event,” she says. “We have so many gifted students, and we want them to have opportunities to lead.”

Student Life kept the back-to-school excitement alive with more activities throughout the week, including games and snacks in Roberts Library and the always-popular dodgeball tournament. The week concluded with the annual church fair, which was a valuable avenue for students to connect with local churches and ministries.

Reflecting on a week of numerous opportunities to connect with other students, Simonds says Welcome Week laid the necessary foundation for a successful semester. “Each Welcome Week event is orchestrated in such a way that the freshmen and the current students are able to talk, laugh and work together in a more relaxed environment outside of class,” Simonds says. “It has been a joy to watch meaningful relationships forming during Student Life events, and it’s all happening before classes even begin!”