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Charting Her Course

Going to a university with three times as many students as her hometown’s population meant a big change for Crystal Stroman of Tarboro. But after a 36-hour orientation to campus life – registering for classes, staying overnight in a residence hall, meeting faculty and staff, and making friends – she felt eager to join NC State’s largest ever freshman class.

“I’m more excited now than nervous,” she said.

Stroman is among 4,800 freshmen and transfer students taking part in summer orientation sessions, which continue through Aug. 3.

NC State was the top college choice of the biological sciences major. “I always wanted to go to a prestigious university,” Stroman said. “When I came here to visit, I thought it would be a good place to go.”

Receiving a Pack Promise award helped her pursue her education at NC State. For families with limited financial resources, Pack Promise covers the cost of up to nine semesters of college through scholarships, grants, federal work-study jobs and need-based loans of no more than $2,500 per year.

To help her explore career interests in two fields, science journalism and endocrinology, Stroman got some scheduling advice from Dr. James E. Mickle, a faculty member in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.

Her fall schedule will be full: biology and chemistry, both with labs, communication, precalculus and a one-hour required orientation class.

In addition to her studies, Stroman hopes to get involved on campus. During orientation, she found herself drawn to a women’s group, the University Activities Board, Study Abroad and student government.

She got a taste of campus living and dining – the food turned out to be better than she expected – and had some fun in the Wolves’ Den downstairs at Talley Student Center.

And campus didn’t turn out to be as big as she first thought.

“I knew a couple of people from my school,” she said. “It was a good experience to see the campus and start to memorize where the buildings are.”

Afterward, she and her mother, Betty, headed home, equipped with a campus map, an NC State backpack and more confidence about navigating college.