Move-in is a big moment for Northeastern parents, too

Greg Dowling, left, moves his son Cole Dowling into his dorm in West Village for the spring semester. Photo by Ruby Wallau/Northeastern University

The sleepless, 15-hour drive from Chicago, Il. to her daughter’s new Huntington Avenue apartment was nothing compared to the emotional goodbye that Tillie Kopec knew was coming Tuesday afternoon.

“Sending your first child out on her own is so nerve-wracking,” Kopec said as she and her daughter Marnie prepared for the 18-year-old’s first semester on Northeastern’s Boston campus. “She’s my oldest of four kids. She’s so excited to finally be here.”

Kopec said the university’s rigorous COVID-19 testing protocols and safeguards have helped put her more at ease, adding that she kept a close eye on the fall semester.

“I’m more worried about sending my kid off into the city by herself than I am about the pandemic,” she said with a laugh. “The numbers here at Northeastern are really under control so I feel really good about that.”

Tillie Kopec is one of many parents juggling the excitement of sending their child off to college with the logistics of moving onto campus as national COVID-19 numbers are on the rise.

Greg Dowling, who helped his son Cole move in Tuesday, said the university’s vaccination rollout impressed him. Northeastern was one of the first universities in the United States to administer COVID-19 vaccines last week, when 88 people who work at the Cabot Testing Center and Life Science Testing Center were vaccinated.

“I feel really good about things. I was talking to some of my friends and they couldn’t believe the testing regimen that’s in place here,” he said.

Students and faculty on campus must complete a daily wellness check in and are tested for the virus every three days. Dowling said his son Cole, an engineering major, can’t wait to get out of the house and get into the classroom.

“He certainly doesn’t want to be sitting at home with us anymore,” said Dowling.

Northeastern alum Randy Rubin, whose 1982 move-in day was pictured in his college yearbook, said he’s eager for his daughter Nicole to have an on-campus experience as she seeks her journalism degree.

“As much as she can be in class is ideal. You learn better that way and you meet people,” said Rubin, who lives in Frisco, Dallas. “My feeling and my wife’s feeling is that the experience of being away from home and interacting with new people, that’s a huge part of it.”

Nicole, who was in Dublin, Ireland last semester as part of the program, took her father to Target and Star Market on Monday to pick up dorm essentials like groceries and cereal bowls before moving into her Columbus Ave. dorm on Tuesday.

“One of the first things she said to us was, ‘I’m going to have to figure out what to have for dinner on my own now,’” said Rubin, who was flying back to Texas on Wednesday.

The 1987 Northeastern graduate said his daughter is dealing with many more complications than he faced during his move-in day, but he’s leaving campus confident that she is in safe hands.

“She’s very responsible and very independent,” he said. “We know she’ll be wearing a mask.”

For media inquiries, please contact