It's move-in day at the Quadrangle, and freshman Andrew Tejerina is putting the final touches on his dorm room, when his cell phone rings.
"Hello... yeah, OK," he says as he turns around with a frown. "They're coming back to take more pictures. I can never really get rid of them."
Tejerina is speaking of his parents, Barbara and Enrique, whom he originally pushed out the door after only 20 minutes of unpacking.
Tejerina's mother, an elementary school French teacher, made the most of the limited time her son allotted in the new residence.
Having already gone through the college move-in process with Tejerina's older sister Diane, a Yale University senior, Mrs. Tejerina took charge of the unpacking -- even climbing up to make her son's lofted bed.
Tejerina's father, an accountant, assumed the role of observer. Standing in the corner with a camera, he let his wife do most of the work.
Once the countless sweaters and t-shirts are unpacked and the furniture is more or less in place, the Tejerina parents say their goodbyes.
Stepping out into the hallway for privacy, Mr. Tejerina gives his son a firm handshake. But Mrs. Tejerina's goodbye is a bit more emotional -- holding her son tightly for nearly a minute, she is sad to see him go, even though he will only be roughly two hours away.
Tejerina wasn't exactly disappointed that his parents made an early departure. "My parents knew that if they stuck around I would kick them out," he claims.
The room still needs a bit of decoration, but the essentials are all in place: bed, desk, mini-fridge and even air conditioning, which now comes standard throughout the entire Quad.
The traffic-filled streets awaiting outside the Quad gates are a drastic change from Tejerina's home in suburban Short Hills, N.J., where he was raised.
Tejerina attended public high school, where he kept himself busy with sports, plays and a lot of Advanced Placement classes -- making him the type of teenager that may seem commonplace at Penn, but who stands out even in top-notch public high schools like the one he attended.
Focusing a great deal of his time on athletics, Tejerina was a varsity standout in both football and swimming.
"It's very weird to find that football player that fits into a Speedo," Tejerina notes with a chuckle.
If it's weird for a football player to fit into a Speedo, then it's unheard of for a football player to be singing in musicals. But that's exactly what Tejerina did when he wasn't scoring touchdowns or swimming the butterfly.
Acting in several musicals, including in the lead role in a production of South Pacific, Tejerina became a prominent member of his high school's theater scene.
"Some of the football players gave me shit about the musicals," Tejerina says.
Since early childhood, Tejerina has been taking guitar lessons from his mother -- causing a special relationship to form as the lessons have evolved into an obsession with the instrument. Leaning against the ladder of his lofted bed, Tejerina's two guitars take up a great deal of space in his small room.
Playing in a style which he likens to "John Mayer's jazzy stuff," Tejerina plans on playing gigs this year at bars, open mics and pretty much anywhere with an audience.
"Hopefully I'll get famous and drop out of school," he half-heartedly jokes.
But in case the drop-out-of-school-and-become-a-rock-star plan doesn't work out, Tejerina is also planning on continuing his football career.
"In high school I did a lot in terms of sports and music, but in college I feel like I should probably devote myself to one," Tejerina says.
His initial intentions were to devote himself to the varsity football team.
As a high school student, Tejerina excelled as a defensive back and had hoped to walk onto the Penn team, but he was not able to secure a spot on the competitive Quaker squad.
"The coach told me they don't need any more defensive backs," Tejerina says with a pout.
Tejerina seems encouraged by the sprint football club program at Penn, but is obviously upset at the thought of not playing varsity football this fall, a chance he would have had at Amherst College.
Tejerina admits that he almost attended Amherst over Penn for that very reason. But other than the football offer, he was not exactly blown away by Amherst.
"Oh my God, Amherst is so boring," he exclaims.
Tejerina's versatile resume and academic accomplishments made him a solid applicant for many colleges -- he scored a 1510 on his SATs and was in the top 10 percent of his graduating class.
Choosing to leave his options open Tejerina applied regular decision to Penn, Amherst, Harvard, Yale, Georgetown, Colombia and New York universities, and Williams College.
By the end of his senior year, Tejerina was left with acceptances to Amherst, Williams, NYU and, of course, Penn.
And Tejerina has no qualms about his final decision.
"I'm psyched -- it's a lot more fun than the other schools," he says with a smile.
Having fun is certainly one of this new freshman's primary goals.
Following the initial departure of Tejerina's parents, Doug Petkanics, a friend from Short Hills strolls into Tejerina's room and the two waste no time getting right to the point -- "I hear there should be parties tonight," Petkanics says.
"So let's do pre-game," Tejerina responds.
As Petkanics leaves the room Tejerina grins largely and claims, "I've been training for this all my life."
And Tejerina and Doug came prepared. Along with CDs, posters and guitars, Tejerina's new room is stocked with beer.
"My fake ID's pitiful, but it works sometimes," Tejerina says as he checks to see if the mini fridge is working yet.
When he's not pre-gaming in the Quad, Tejerina plans to frequent the fraternity parties that engulf the first couple weeks of school.
Tejerina is not fully certain that he will pledge a fraternity, but he's not shy to mention that he'll probably get sucked in by the beer and Beirut.
Most incoming freshmen males look forward to meeting a lot of college women, and Tejerina is no exception. Well-groomed and possessing a strong physique, Tejerina should be able to find a girlfriend at Penn -- if he finds the time.
You see, Tejerina is a bit overzealous about his extracurricular activities, a factor that could become a problem considering he scheduled class for 9 a.m. every morning.
"It will keep me from being drunk all seven nights a week," he jokes.
If Tejerina starts waltzing into his dorm room drunk at 4 a.m. every morning, his roommate, Ed Silver, might not be too enthused.
Silver, a fellow freshman from nearby Bryn Mawr, Penn., is a varsity tennis athlete and plans on devoting much of his time to practice and schoolwork.
Aside from conflicting social activities, Silver and Tejerina anticipate a friendly relationship.
"I don't know if he'll be my best friend, but he'll be a good roommate," Tejerina says.
The Tejerina parents return to the dorm room not long after their unanticipated call warning their son that they would be back -- they want more pictures.
Silver and Tejerina sit together chatting. Silver's parents are busy tidying up the room, and the Tejerinas are still finishing up the roll of film.
Tejerina poses for one picture in front of his duffel bag embroidered with "TEJ," which is both the abbreviation of his last name and his high school nickname.
"Most people don't even know that my real name is Andrew," he proclaims.
But what Tejerina knows is certain -- he's ready for college.
About this Series Each year, a new set of freshmen enters the University full of energy, enthusiasm — and nerves. Ready to meet new people and experience new things, these college novices are embarking upon a life-altering course. And this year, The Daily Pennsylvanian decided to follow three freshmen along for the ride. You will mee Justine Mumaw, Temi Omojola, and Andrew Tejerina and experience alongside them the joys — and pains — of first-year college life through article appearing intermittently in the DP. As you read, please share your freshman experiences with us in our freshman forums.Comments powered by Disqus
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