'It's their time to find themselves': Carroll University welcomes nearly 800 new students for the new year

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WAUKESHA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Carroll University welcomed its new class of Pioneers Friday morning, Aug. 27. The university will have nearly 800 new faces on campus from 26 states and 12 countries.

For Grace Belshaw, attending Carroll University was an easy choice.

"I chose it because I'm going to animal behavior so I thought that was just a super cool major and the campus just seems super nice, and small, and not crazy big," said Belshaw.

It's a moment in time university's president, Dr. Cindy Gnadinger, calls "special".

"Because it's their time to find themselves. It's a time where they can discover who they want to be," said Gnadinger. 

"It's kind of scary but my family is so close so it's so nice to be able to -- if I forget something they can just bring it up -- and still be able to feel independent," said incoming freshman Sophia Ruppel.

Carroll's new students will be joining the university as COVID-19 continues to spread in Wisconsin and around the country.

Last year, the university president says they lost two faculty members who both caught the virus in off-campus settings.

"That was a very difficult time for our campus community," said Gnadinger.

Right now, 75 percent of faculty and staff, and 75 percent of students are vaccinated.

Despite the pandemic, it's an exciting time on campus.

"For this class of students, especially, they've lost a lot due to COVID and so we're really excited to be able to offer that college experience," said Gnadinger. "The experience will still be real. It'll still be a full experience for them."

Eighty percent of the new class will live on campus.

The university has several orientation events for all students throughout the next week.

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