KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Families and students shared the excitement of a new school year as the first day of move-in wrapped up for nearly 2,000 University of Tennessee students on Sunday.
Freshman Eli Bunyi and his family were especially excited about his new journey.
“I really just wanted to go here my whole life. My parents went here,” Eli said.
His parents are excited their son chose their alma matter. But also, that he’s moving into the same dorm.
“It’s kind of surreal now that our son is 18 years old and moving into Carrick Hall. I’m like time passes by so quick,” his father Brayan Bunyi said. “This is where we met.”
“Yeah, I started right here, South Carrick,” Eli’s mom, Angela Bunyi added.
“And then I was at Reese Hall,” Brayan said. “It’s crazy. So that was like 20 years ago.”
Like many students, Eli’s last year in high school wasn’t exactly what he was hoping for, but a new school year means new opportunities.
“Last year was my senior year so I didn’t get a lot of that,” he said. “So, getting to experience full Neyland, full events, full classrooms, it will be a lot of fun. I think it will definitely make a difference.”
There are a few COVID guidelines UT has put in place, but they aren’t as strict as last year’s policies. According to UT Chancellor Donde Plowman, students and staff will only need to wear masks in classrooms or labs. There are no social distancing or vaccine rules for students at UT at this time.
Though a COVID-19 vaccine is not mandatory, this week, UT is offering free COVID-19 vaccinations and shuttles to the Student Health Center for students and their families.
With the new start on the horizon, Eli already has plans before his first day of class.
“A couple of us have to do a success academy so we’ll have planned events through UT and then I think a couple of us are planning on rushing too.”
His parents are looking forward to seeing his journey at the university where they made some of their best memories.
“You proposed here,” Angela said to her husband.
“Yeah, the year of Peyton Manning,” Brayan said. “So, you know our hopes and wishes are with him that he has a great time too.”