With the start of the new school year just days away, two first-year students from Arizona are quickly settling in at Loras.
“It feels like home,” Deborah Mendoza (’23) said. “It feels like I have been to school here before, but, of course, I haven’t even started yet.”
Mendoza flew into Dubuque from her home in Glendale, Ariz. a week early to begin practice with the Women’s Volleyball team. For Andrew Martinez (’23), it took a little longer as a three-day drive from Phoenix got him to campus on Tuesday afternoon.
“It was all in a little minivan, so it was great,” Martinez laughed.
Both Mendoza and Martinez visited campus in February through a fly-in program at their high schools.
“It was really cold,” Martinez recalled. “It was a big temperature and climate difference for us, but by the last day, I felt like I was already acclimated. I was already wearing shorts!”
Mendoza became familiar with Loras through her cousin, who is also a Loras student and shared her positive experience. While visiting, she was struck by how welcoming everyone was while the strength of the neuroscience and Spanish programs helped convince her it was the right fit.
For Martinez, it was a combination of learning about the College from Robbie Stran (’02), associate director of admission, during a college fair and being pushed toward it by his high school principal, Jim Sigman (’95). After looking into what Loras has to offer, he was sold on its size.
“I liked that Loras is a small school. I was from a smaller high school, so I like ability to get to know my professors and have more one-on-one interactions.”
Martinez is also looking to get involved in various aspects of student life, another strength of Loras.
As they get settled in on campus, they are also adjusting to the different flow of the community. Part of that adjustment is getting used to Midwestern hospitality.
“Everyone says ‘hi,’ not just on campus, but everywhere,” Mendoza said. “I went for a run and the drivers of every car I passed waved to me. It is just a different vibe than Phoenix. I really like it.”
She added that the plant life is also noticeably different.
“I have never seen so much green in my life with all the plants. Arizona does not look like this.”
Mendoza and Martinez are two of six first-year students arriving from Arizona. While four first-year students came to Loras last year, the upward trend in students from the southwest is something Loras hopes to continue.
“We are getting the word out that Loras is here little by little,” Sylma Wingard, admission counselor at Loras, said. “We have alumni down there that are talking us up, and hopefully that will continue to pay dividends each year.”