August 23, 2017
Carah Pennington, of Pottstown, Pennsylvania, sat on her bed in a McDaniel College dorm room, petting her service dog, Daisy.
The 18-year-old, who plans to major in cinema and hopes to be a movie director, was one of many unpacking and getting settled in for their first year of college. And while Pennington’s first year undoubtedly brings with it many similarities to other freshmen and new students, her transition to college brings a few more hurdles.
Pennington has trichotillomania — a hair pulling disorder — anxiety and depression, all of which Daisy helps her deal with on a day-to-day basis. Daisy helps her stay on schedule and gets her up in the morning and out of bed, she said.
For her, choosing McDaniel was easy — its welcoming nature and accommodations in addition to the kindness shown to her were all reasons Pennington said she knew the Westminster school was the one for her. Moving in, she said, she was worried about being anxious, but the college staff has been helpful.
“McDaniel made it so much easier,” she said of transitioning to the school.
McDaniel’s campus was packed and vibrant, filled with energy Wednesday morning after a few calmer summer months. Cars wrapped around in front of dorms as the McDaniel move-in crew — made up of older students, clubs and faculty — hoisted boxes and bags out of cars and into the rooms.
Pennington visited dozens of schools, she said, but the Maryland liberal arts college was one that jumped out at her.
“McDaniel was my top [choice],” she added. “It fits perfectly.”
She said she’s really excited about starting classes. She also said she plans to get involved with many campus activities, such as Active Minds, a “nonprofit organization that empowers students to speak openly about mental health in order to educate others and encourage help-seeking,” according to its website.
And, Pennington said, she’s planning to start a Quidditch team — like those in the “Harry Potter” series — on campus, something she’s excited about.
Wednesday’s freshman and transfer student move-in signals the end of summer, with classes beginning Monday.
A total of 452 new students are expected to enter McDaniel this year, one of the largest incoming classes in the college’s history. The school had a record number of first-year applicants for the Class of 2021, with 3,665, according to McDaniel.