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Dixie State welcomes its first freshman class as a university

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Posted at 9:25 PM, Aug 16, 2013
and last updated 2013-08-16 23:25:18-04

ST. GEORGE – It’s back to school time for university students across the state, and in St. George, freshman at Dixie State University got an introduction to life after high school.

It was also a milestone for the school, which welcomed their first freshman class as a university.

Close to 1,400 attended freshman orientation on Friday. They spent the day buying books, finding their way around and discovering what to do on campus.

For new students like Annika Shields, it’s a way to get their feet wet before classes actually begin.

“I like that it’s smaller classes,” Shields said, talking about why she chose DSU. “Even though it’s a new university, it’s more hands on. So I like the smaller classes.”

DSU Dean of Students Del Beatty said, like most Utah institutions, they’ve felt the effect of the LDS Church’s change to their missionary eligibility age. But he said the hit has been minor.

“Our freshman class is down a little bit, but not too much,” Beatty said. “So we’re excited.”

The school attributes the hit being only minor due to their change to a university. That transition has brought total degrees to 44, and the addition of programs attracts more students, including a surprising amount from out of state.

“If they’re coming from Nevada or Southern California,” Beatty said, “a lot of their higher education programs have been cut, so they’re looking for an opportunity to be here, to be somewhat close to home but have an out-of-state experience.”

Regardless of the draw, the energy of the freshman class is undeniable. They’ve got lofty goals. Freshman Bryce Parker is studying engineering, but he also wants to form the university’s Quidditch club.

Shields is studying business and hopes to open her own hair salon.

Sophomore Tevita Sekeni said that’s the best thing about heading back to the classroom, fulfilling those dreams.

“The best thing about going back to school is knowing that you have a purpose,” Sekeni said. “That you are important and you will make a difference.”

Fall semester starts Monday, August 19.