Together at last

Four University of Florida students pose for a picture, gesturing the gator chomp, while sitting on the lawn of Plaza of the Americas during the first day of Summer B on Monday, June 29.

The University of Florida kicked off the Summer B semester on Monday, resuming fully in-person operations for the first time since the start of the pandemic. 

As the day went on, students explored the campus, introducing themselves to new friends while others spent time at the Plaza las Americas soaking up the sun. 

Among those enjoying the weather were Aaron Estrellado, 18, and his friends, second-year students excited to see the campus come alive after a year of limited capacity. Estrellado said that after a year of physical distancing on campus, "it felt so weird" initially to see everyone interacting with each other in classes held at full capacity. 

"It's different seeing so many people on campus," added 19-year-old Sam Maley. 

Maley and Estrellado met with Graysen Panganiban, 18, who had laid a blanket on the grass. The second-year student had Summer B off but decided to come and enjoy the ambiance now that the school had returned to normal operations. 

There are many things all three said they are looking forward to doing this fall. But one thing they surely are excited about is football.  

In addition to returning students, UF is welcoming an estimated 2,000 new students. Their excitement started as early as Friday, with many exploring campus and settling in their residence halls. 

First-year students Noah Zhuo, 18, and Sam Dedio, 18, were among those kicking off their academic careers on Monday. They said they were both enjoying seeing so many people out and about, while they spent their time at Turlington Plaza. 

"There's so much to see," Dedio said. "I'm really glad that everything is back to normal." 

Zhuo said he is looking forward to joining clubs and living on campus, especially after spending his last year of high school mostly learning online. 

"I want to meet new people, explore the city," Zhuo said. "Everything is just so new. I'm just really excited." 

To fully take advantage of everything UF has to offer without limitations, university officials strongly encourage those who are not vaccinated to look out for numerous pop-up vaccination sites that UF Health Screen, Test & Protect will host in high-traffic areas throughout campus this semester. Information on the pop-up sites will be shared through UF’s social media channels in the coming days as well as on

Welcome back, Gators! 

On-Campus Welcome Events: 

  • June 28: Movie Night at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center from 5 to 8 p.m.
  • June 29: GatorMania on the Plaza of the Americas from 5 to 7 p.m. (alternate location in case of rain: Reitz Union)
  • June 30: ACCENT Show in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center at 7 p.m.
  • July 1: Student Life Picnic on the Plaza of the Americas at 4 p.m.
  • July 2: GatorNights at the Reitz Union from 6 to 10 p.m.
Cynthia Roldán Hernández; Picture by Wise Clairvoyant June 28, 2021