Drew Borchert

Student Chronicles: Check-in with the Class of 2027

January 29, 2024


Back in September, UR Now spoke to a group of first-year students from across the country. Since that time, they’ve adjusted to four months of residence life, classes, eating at D-Hall, and being away from home. Now that they’ve had some time to settle in, they shared their perspectives on their experiences.

Tsion Maru is excited to start her second semester.

How did your first semester go?

“Very well,” said Drew Borchert of Chesterfield (pictured above). “I was able to establish a schedule that fit me and develop a lot of new friends.”

Alvaro Ledezma, who arrived here from California’s Bay Area, also had a positive experience. “I really enjoyed my classes, got involved in some student organizations like Alpha Kappa Psi and club basketball, and made great friends.” 

Tsion Maru of Silver Spring, Maryland, admitted she started with anxiety about schoolwork and balancing all the activities that she wanted to try but found her footing over time.

“As the semester went on, I got a lot better at managing everything. I really grew to be comfortable at Richmond and I was able to end the semester on a high note,” Maru said. “It makes me excited for what my second semester holds.”

What was your favorite class and why?

First-year seminars are one of the definitive experiences at University of Richmond, where students select a class from a wide range of topics and develop the skills that they will need to become successful students.

“My favorite class would probably have to be my seminar, The Power to Change the World,” said Borchert of his course on the impact of sports on society. “We learned about athletes such as Muhammad Ali and Jackie Robinson.” 

"I met some amazing people that I can now call my friends," said Abby Ioannou, who joined the SpinnURS dance team.

Borchert was impressed by a visit from LaRee Sugg, UR’s deputy director of athletics for policy and sports management, who was only the third Black woman on the WPGA tour.

Abby Ioannou of Garnet Valley, Pennsylvania enjoyed her first-year seminar, For the Love of Books. “I thought that the content was incredibly interesting. We examined the history of print, and how books became widespread,” she said.

Maru and Ledezma both pointed to Principles of Microeconomics, taught by economics professor Saif Mehkari, as their favorite class.

“Dr. Mehkari was engaging and passionate about helping students understand the material,” Ledezma said. “Taking this class definitely solidified my interest in majoring in mathematical economics.” 

Maru agreed. “Dr. Mehkari made the class very interesting. We talked about many relevant topics and I am now considering pursuing a major in Economics,” she said. “I was definitely challenged, but not to a point where I felt overwhelmed."

What was something you enjoyed doing for fun this semester?

Borchert played sports in high school and plans to continue. “I enjoyed playing intramurals and club volleyball along with taking some time to go out with friends to explore the Richmond area,” he said. 

From left to right: Ryan Newnam, Oleh Atamaniuk, Alvaro Ledezma, and Nick Alekshun, after their recruitment interviews for Alpha Kappa Psi, a business fraternity, which all of them joined.

Similarly, Ioannou has continued one of her passions by joining the SpinnURs dance team. “The team dances at all home men’s and women’s basketball games,” she said. “It’s so much fun to be able to support my fellow Spiders and continue my dance career.”

Ledezma liked shooting hoops with his club team at the Weinstein Center. “It's a fun way to meet new people and stay active,” he said.

Maru enjoyed downtime with friends. “We started to watch anime together this semester,” she said. “It was a great way to take breaks from studying.”

What was the biggest surprise about UR?

Ledezma unexpectedly found familiar faces on campus. “The biggest surprise of my first semester was how often I see people I know. I love running into my friends spontaneously,” he said. “It really makes campus feel like home.” 

Borchert appreciated the navigable campus. "My biggest surprise would have to be the ease of access with my Spidercard and the apps provided from Richmond. It made food, classes, and overall information easier for me.” 

Ioannou is used to cold winters back home in Pennsylvania, so the winter months brought comparatively temperate weather. “I was able to wear shorts through November — which being from New England is a foreign concept to me.”

Maru was surprised by how understanding her professors were. “I expected them to be very strict with grading and teaching, but they really prioritized learning,” she said. “It made it a lot easier to come to class and really engage with the coursework.”