For the first time in their lives, the Gordon quadruplets are not all living together.
Brother Jackson has enrolled as a freshman at the University of Montana. Sisters Lyndi and Taylor are staying home in Abilene, Texas, still deciding their college plans.
And brother Hunter is a freshman at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
Moving into UC Foundation (UCF) Apartments this week, he’s pretty chill about the split, although he admitted that they’ve been a tight group their entire lives.
“It’s just kind of hard, I guess, splitting up after all these years together,” said Hunter, who is majoring in computer science.
College move in can be emotional. Nervous teenagers leaving home for the first time as their sad or proud or worried parents look on. Meeting roommates for the first time. Trying to find your place—sometimes literally—on a campus with more than 11,000 students
All this week at the residential housing units on campus, cars, pickups, SUVs and minivans pull in, often stuffed to the brim and unloaded by students, parents, siblings and other relatives.
As they’re rolled into the housing units, three-foot-deep pushcarts are packed with TVs, blankets, kitchenware, mattress pads, fans, even cases of root beer, rice crispies and apple juice.
In one case, a student moving into UCF loaded four carts with belongings, then had to come back and load one more. At West Campus Housing, a 20-foot line of items destined for a student’s room sat ready to be loaded in.
Theatre major Harris Thompson is only moving down from Signal Mountain to West Campus Housing and is not carrying a boatload of items since he can zip back home easily if he needs something.
His family also has made other college move-ins in the past few years, one each for his older sister and older brother, both of whom went to Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro. You learn from experience, so loading Harris’ stuff was a lot easier, said his stepdad, John Kuehnel, who graduated from UTC in 2003 with a degree in geology.
“It literally took us like 12 minutes to load. I think it took longer to back my truck out of the garage and get it ready to load,” he said.
Freshman Alayna Bridges is majoring in criminal justice and biology. After graduation, she wants to join the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to help solve homicide cases using biologic evidence.
As she loaded a cart to carry her belongings into Lockmiller Apartments, she said, “Part of me is nervous and a part of me is excited to start my life.”
“I have a mixture of feelings, but I’m ready to get my career started and go on my own adventure,” said Bridges, who is from Chapel Hill, Tennessee, south of Nashville.
Devin McLemore practically oozed confidence as he moved into West Campus Housing. The Spring Hill, Tennessee, freshman who’s majoring in entrepreneurship said he had a slight concern about finding his way around campus, but it’s a minor problem.
“I’ve probably got to walk around some,” he said.
Katie Tipton, a senior in accounting who plans to graduate in May 2024, said learning the layout of the campus is a good idea for anyone who’s a newcomer at UTC.
Her brother Nathan, a sophomore in civil engineering, said freshmen shouldn’t be “afraid to reach out.”
“The overwhelming amount of work may seem impossible to do, but if you ever need help, the professors are willing to help you,” he said.
Their family lives in Ooltewah, and both will live in UCF this academic year.
Joshua Berry, a Bartlett, Tennessee, freshman who hasn’t chosen a major yet, said he thinks he may have some issues with scheduling, especially since he has three 8 a.m. classes.
“Normally, I just go with the flow and now I can’t do that, apparently,” he shrugged as he moved his stuff into West Campus Housing.
His mother, Erin, was feeling the concern he lacked.
“I’m worried he’s not going to make his 8 a.m. classes. High school was pretty much a breeze for him, but I’m like, ‘College is a little different, dude,’” she said, wearing a T-shirt that said “I’m a Nervous Rex” around a picture of a dinosaur.
Justice Scruggs, a Smith County, Tennessee, sophomore in nursing, was the first person in her family to go to college when she enrolled in UTC in 2022. Along with her classes, this year she will be mentoring a freshman nursing student, an added level of responsibility, she said.
“I’ll tell her about my own experiences with having to make new friends and figuring it out on my own,” she said.
In her first year at UTC, Scruggs’ parents were torn between being proud that their daughter was going to college and sad that she was leaving home.
“I wanted her to go, but we just miss her,” said Billy Joe Scruggs, her father.
But the pride far overwhelms the missing.
“One hundred percent,” he said.
Operation Move In photo gallery (photos by Angela Foster)