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Start of college a rite of passage for parents, too

Families outside ASU bookstore in Tempe

Tori Stoney (right) browses the racks outside the bookstore on the Tempe campus with her mother and sister on Monday, Aug. 17. The freshman communications major from New York wants to produce TV and do screenwriting.

August 17, 2015

Editor's note: As ASU gears up for the start of classes this week, our reporters are spotlighting scenes around its campuses. To read more, click here.

Darrell Lew sat at a table in the shade outside the campus bookstore in the heart of the Tempe campus waiting for his wife to finish a phone call. The Bay Area photographer was dropping off his son Ryan, 18, an incoming freshman at Arizona State University.

Ryan chose ASU because of the bachelor degree in sports and media studies from the W. P. Carey School of Business. His father was impressed with ASU. It was his third visit to the university.

“It looks like a great campus,” Darrell said. “It’s very community-oriented. I think they do a great job compartmentalizing such a huge campus.”

He wasn’t fazed by the heat. “I used to come here a lot for business,” he said. And Ryan? “He loves the hot weather.”

The Lew family arrived Saturday and have been helping Ryan settle into Hassayampa Academic Village. Today they visited dining-hall options, the bank (“Know where to get money in,” Darrell said), and the bookstore. Tonight they’ll have a dinner sendoff in Scottsdale, “then we leave him here tomorrow.”

It’ll be Ryan’s first time living on his own. The family just moved to the Bay Area after living in Shanghai for five years.

“I think living in Shanghai has given him a lot of independence,” his father said.

The Stoneys: Mom feeling confident

Tori Stoney browsed the clothing racks outside the bookstore with her sister and mother Lurline. The freshman communications major comes to ASU from Uniondale, Long Island, New York.

It was Lurline’s first visit to the Tempe campus. “It’s huge!” the nurse practitioner said. “I think she’ll like it.”

Her first impression of her daughter’s campus? “How is she going to get around?” Lurline said. “This is her first time away from home.”

What does Tori want to do in her college years? “I want to join a sorority,” she said.

Why ASU? “I wanted beautiful weather and a big campus in a big area,” Tori said. “And (ASU) had my major. I want to produce TV and get into screenwriting.”

On Monday, Stoney moved into Manzanita Hall (“I can’t remember the name. It has a Z in it”) and got her Sun Card. And the rest of the day? “I want to go shopping around.”

Her mother won’t worry about her when she leaves. She has two other daughters already in college.

“I’ll be confident she’ll be OK,” Lurline said. “She’s more mature than when my other daughter went to Howard University in Washington, D.C. My confidence level is better this time around.”

The Fitzpatricks: Hot but impressed

Thomas Fitzpatrick and his wife brought their son Connor to ASU from Morristown, New Jersey. Connor will study computer information systems at the W. P. Carey School of Business.

Thomas’ first impression of ASU? “It’s extremely hot, and it’s huge,” he said as he stood outside the bookstore dripping with sweat. “I’ve never experienced heat like this.”

Despite the heat, the Glasgow, Scotland, native was most impressed by “the variety and potential for my son’s future.”

Connor is a midshipman in Navy ROTC. “We thought someone was pulling our leg,” Thomas said of a naval ROTC program in the middle of the desert.

The Fitzpatricks are in Tempe for a week, then visiting friends in Tucson before returning to New Jersey. “This morning my wife dragged me to yoga for the first time,” Thomas said.

The afternoon was devoted to picking up goods at a home-supply store in Mesa. It’s their son’s first time away from home.

“I’ll miss Connor,” Thomas said.

His son doesn’t have any trepidation about leaving the nest. “He has no qualms about it,” his father said. “He’s relishing the prospect.”

Connor will share a room with a childhood friend in the Hassayampa Academic Village. 

What will his parting words be to his son? “Nothing you can print,” he said with a grin. “He better not get in any trouble if he knows what’s good for him.”

Thomas’ father was voted photographer of the year three times in Scotland. “He always wanted to come to America,” he said. “I know he’d be proud of Connor.”

Thomas works for a fire-safety company that designs and installs systems for large companies and institutions. His company designed the system for Microsoft’s 34-building campus in Seattle.

“It’s an important job,” he said. “We protect people’s lives and property. That’s what I want for my son – to contribute to society.”