December 2, 2021

SUNY Cortland students move in

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

SUNY Cortland freshman Laura Franco throws a plush pink pillow on her bed Thursday upon arriving at her dorm room in Hendrick Hall with her mother, Lena Duncan, of Brooklyn. Franco was among 1,323 freshmen and 692 transfer students arriving Thursday. Upperclassmen are arriving over the weekend.

Excelsior Scholarship or not, freshmen moving in Thursday said they were excited about starting their new chapter of life at SUNY Cortland.

It was the first year of the state’s scholarship offered to offset tuition for middle class families making less than $100,000 yearly, but students like Abby Lindenberg of Long Island missed the deadline to apply.

However, her father, Brian Lindenberg, said with other financial aid packages the tuition was still “totally affordable.”
“It was really last minute, wonderful but last minute,” Brian Lindenberg said of the Excelsior Scholarship as he, his wife, Katie, and their 5-year-old son, Owen, helped Abby move into Randall Hall. If it doesn’t help Abby, there’s always Owen.

“He’s starting kindergarten and she just graduated high school,” said Brian Lindenberg.

Owen alternated between hugging his older sister and sitting on large moving boxes, taking a break from helping her move in.

Abby Lindenberg said she chose SUNY Cortland because it had the earth science education program she was looking for.

“It had the exact program I was looking for and it’s really great here, I loved the views and the people are nice here,” she said.

Katherine Cameron, also from Long Island, and also moving into Brockway Hall, said she chose SUNY Cortland for its early education program. It was the only college she applied to because she was that certain it had what she wanted.

“When I came and visited campus I liked it,” she said.

Her mother, Tammy Cameron, said she applied for the Excelsior Scholarship and was thrilled to receive it, noting it made a big difference.

“We did it as soon as they said ‘start applying,’ ” she said, noting that the only expenses for her daughter’s education this year, besides educational materials will be room and board.

Putting aside the joys of financial help, Katherine’s grandmother, Doreen Cameron, was sad as she watched her first grandchild move into her dorm room four hours away from home.

“My heart is breaking, I’ve been counting down the days and saying, ‘Lord I don’t know how I’m going to live without this child,’” the eldest Cameron said.

Katherine is entering the right field, she said. She recalls her granddaughter as a little girl “teaching her teddy bears.”

Incoming freshman Yazarah Bommersbach of Syracuse was frequently hugged by her 6-year-old sister, Gianni Grace, as she moved into DeGroat Hall. Bommersbach said she chose SUNY Cortland over other SUNY schools like Brockport and Oswego because of its physical education program.

“My teachers have advised me to come here,” she said of the guidance she got at Henninger High School in Syracuse.

Safiat Izekor of the South Bronx waved good-bye to her family outside DeGroat Hall. She and her father went carefully through her options, ruling out other colleges like the University of Albany and SUNY Plattsburgh or Baruch College for one reason or another, be it expense, distance or retention rates.

Izekor knows she wants to be a pre-med major and so she will take courses like chemistry and biology. Coming from the Bronx Center for Science and Mathematics, she looks forward to them. She also looked forward to meeting her roommate.

The incoming freshman class at SUNY Cortland is 1,323 this year. There are also 692 transfer students coming to the school, said college President Erik Bitterbaum.

Bitterbaum said he expects calls from irate parents because the “robust” numbers mean about half the students ended up in triple dorm rooms. He said he would assure parents that lifelong friendships are likely to develop over from these rooming situations.