Vrinda Madan and her parents, Alka Madan and Atul Madan on Poe Field

At Freshman Families Weekend, families share in the Princeton experience

Princeton University celebrated Freshman Families Weekend on Oct. 13-15 with lively discussions and opportunities for students to share their new Princeton home with family members. Vrinda Madan (center) and her parents, Alka Madan and Atul Madan, gather for Tiger Harvest on Poe Field for food, fun and music.

Princeton University celebrated Freshman Families Weekend on Oct. 13-15 with lively discussions and opportunities for students to share their new Princeton home with family members.

"Freshman Families Weekend is meant to continue our Orientation activities by inviting families of first-year students back to campus six weeks after move-in day," Dean of the College Jill Dolan said.

"Now that their students have settled into residential and academic life at Princeton, we’re pleased to give families an in-depth view into what it’s like to be in your first year on campus. We invite them to faculty lectures; panels about study abroad and service and civic engagement; discussions about the complexities of the transition to campus; and a discussion with President Christopher L. Eisgruber and myself. We’re happy to welcome parents back for a more granular view of our fall semester and ongoing student-focused activities and possibilities."

The weekend kicked off with a faculty lecture by Jeff Whetstone, a professor of visual arts in the Lewis Center for the Arts. Presenting a slideshow of photographs of the American West from the mid-19th century to the present, he spoke about the craft of photography and drew on his knowledge of history, sociology and science.

Students on panel discussing their experiences overseas

Parents and families attend "International Opportunities," a panel discussion moderated by Karen Krahulik (left), senior associate dean for international programs and experiential learning. Undergraduate students detail their Princeton experiences overseas.

Later, during "International Opportunities," a panel discussion moderated by Karen Krahulik, senior associate dean for international programs and experiential learning, undergraduate students detailed their Princeton experiences overseas. One student described a summer internship in the financial services industry in Tokyo, sponsored by International Internship Program, and another spoke about a semester studying politics and economics at the University of Oxford in conjunction with the Office of International Programs.

"We believe international learning is central and integral to every students' experience here," said Krahulik. "Learning overseas changes how students think, and it changes how they live."

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Students and their families also visited the Study Abroad Fair, which was held in the Frist Campus Center. "I'm interested in studying abroad, particularly the French study abroad program in Aix-en-Provence, because that's the next French 'class' for me," said Peter Foster, a first-year student in Mathey College who is from Pittsburgh. "I'm also interested in theater, and I'm curious to learn if there are international internship opportunities in theater."

His parents, Jim and Nancy Foster, are Princeton parents twice over; their daughter, Hannah, is a 2012 alumna. Even so, they returned to Freshman Families Weekend this year to learn what the University has to offer their son. "We continue to be impressed by the University's commitment helping students figure out what they want to do — helping them figure out what they are passionate about, and helping them really go after that," Jim Foster said.

Other academics-oriented events included "Thriving at Princeton," in which a panel of undergraduates in the A.B. program shared their curricular and co-curricular journeys; "The Engineering Experience," where B.S.E. students spoke about educational and professional pathways in engineering; and "Learning at Princeton," a panel discussion about the resources available to undergraduates, such as through the Princeton Writing Program, the McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning, and the Office of Undergraduate Research.

The weekend also featured guided tours. Students led Orange Key tours of campus, as well as of the Lewis Arts complex, with newly opened buildings for the Department of Music and the Lewis Center for the Arts' programs in dance, music theater, theater and the Princeton Atelier. Princeton physicists and engineers showed families around the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, a national center for fusion energy research. Families also visited the Carl A. Fields Center for Equality and Cultural Understanding and the Davis International Center to meet Princeton staff and learn how the offices contribute to academic and extracurricular student life.    

Sabrina Evoy and mother Nicole Evoy tossing beanbags on Poe Field

Sabrina Evoy (right) and her mother, Nicole Evoy, toss beanbags on Poe Field.

A weekend highlight was Tiger Harvest, when students and their families gathered on Poe Field for food, fun and music sponsored by Campus Recreation. The exuberant 16-obstacle "Grit 'N' Wit Challenge: Brain Meets Brawn" pitted teams of students and family members against each other in a series of mental and physical games. Tiger Harvest also offered a numerous arts and craft activities for younger siblings.

Dorothy Nattiel from Redington Shores, Florida, whose daughter, Angelika Morris, is a first-year student in Mathey College, said, "It's been nice to just give her a hug since we haven’t seen her since drop-off."

Morris looked forward to showing her family around campus, and connecting them with important aspects of her Princeton experience. "Sports has really helped me become more motivated," Morris said, who is a walk-on member of the women's crew team.

"I'm really excited to see that she's balancing out academia and her other interests," Nattiel said.

Most importantly, the weekend gave students an opportunity to introduce their new friends to their families and just be at Princeton together.

"I'm excited to show my family around campus and what my life really looks like — the academic buildings I have classes in, the libraries and where I play Ultimate Frisbee — because it's very different from our expectations from when we visited last year," said Sabrina Evoy, a first-year student in Rockefeller College from Pittsburgh.

"And I want to spend time with Sabrina, meet her friends and see what she does," said her mother, Nicole Evoy. "This weekend is an opportunity to see her once she's acclimated; it's a very different vibe than move-in day. I want to see a day in her life!"