UC Merced students have a lot to look forward at the start of fall semster

MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) -- UC Merced students said goodbye to summer and hello to a new semester as they crossed the Scholars Lane Bridge. Freshman Brenda Martinez is one of the many who attended class on the first day. Her mom and Grandma are accompanying her on this monumental day.

"I'm kind of scared, kind of overwhelmed, but kind of glad that I finally made it here and I'm here to focus on my future."

While Martinez geared for class, Freshman Jacquline Lei is figuring out dorm life. Over the break, she left her hometown of Modesto and moved onto campus.

"You are basically living as an adult and you're are going to have these responsibilities that you will have to take care of your future and have to know that you are responsible for that."

Thanks to a new expansion Lei and more than 700 other students can now live at the university, but that's not the only new addition to campus. A new dining hall can now accommodate 600 people and a new cafeteria can feed them. An additional 20 classrooms were also added.

"It just opened up literally a couple weeks ago, and as our students are coming back, and our faculty are coming back, they are discovering a lot of new spaces that were not here in May," said Charles Nies, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs.

It's only phase one of a project expected to be completed in 2020. They also have a brand new research center for nicotine and cannabis policy.

"We can raise awareness around that and do research around the different elements that are connected to nicotine and cannabis use," said Nies.

This year, the more than 7,900 students are attending the campus-- over 200 are new and sophomore Francisco Alvarez has some advice for them.

"If you are nervous it is fine, it is the first day, you always get jitters, just know that the second day, come back stronger. Every day just aim to improve," said Alvarez.

EMBED More News Videos

Thousands of new UC Merced students are kicking off the start of a new school year Wednesday morning.

Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.