February 17, 2022 | Montemorelos, Nuevo Leon, Mexico | Laura Marrero and Inter-American Division News

After nearly two years since Montemorelos University—a Seventh-day Adventist-operated institution, located in North Mexico– was forced to close its campus at the start of the pandemic, students and faculty gathered to officially open its spring semester. More than 1,800 students joined administrators, faculty and support staff to reflect on God’s goodness and to pray together in front of the campus library, on Jan. 25, 2022.

Hundreds of students from 44 countries were in attendance, many of whom had already begun their first years of college virtually in 2020. For them, they were stepping onto a college campus for the first time.

Montemorelos University officials lead out during the official opening ceremony of the spring semester in front of the library on campus, Jan. 25, 2022. [Photo: Montemorelos University]

“It’s been nearly two years and when we suspended in-person classes we thought it would be for like two or three weeks, then a month, and we did not imagine that would get used to virtual reality and that we would forget how to be in person here,” said Dr. Raquel Korniejczuk, academic vice-president of Montemorelos.

Korniejczuk invited the student body to take part in the opportunities and benefits that being in-person on the campus brings.

“During these years we have learned other skills which are and will be very useful to us, but we need to get back to experiencing the wonderful advantages of being like this, together, connecting our hearts among classmates, teachers, and students, in a healthy environment and with great hope,” said Korniejczuk.

More than 1,800 students attend the special celebration back on campus on Jan. 25, 2022. Students and faculty prayed in groups for a successful semester with God’s blessings. [Photo: Montemorelos Univeristy]

For everyone enrolled at the university, hope lies beyond what the semester can offer, she said. “This reaches into a new world, where we will continue the bonds of learning throughout eternity.”

A large tree was planted during the celebratory event to commemorate the historic moment.

“Those from ancient times built an altar to celebrate God’s provisions, but we are planting a tree as a thankful offering to God because He allowed us to meet again,” said Dr. Ismael Castillo, president of Montemorelos University. “This is a moment of gratitude.”

Students pray together during the opening semester ceremony on campus. [Photo: Montemorelos University]

Three additional trees were planted to go along with the university’s reforestation project on campus this year, leaders said.

University officials said that many more are registered but due to visa, national vaccination requirements, or family issues, many students are not on campus yet. There are 2,132 students enrolled during the spring semester this year, university leaders reported.  Months before the pandemic hit, in the fall of 2019, there were 2,809 students enrolled.  In 2020, the average for the year was 2,537, and in 2021, it was 2,475.

Student body leaders help in replanting a large tree on campus as part of the official start of the semester last month. [Photo: Montemorelos University]

The university is enforcing social distancing, face masks, anti-bacterial gel stations, temperature checks, regular sanitation of classrooms, offices, and meeting areas, as well as isolation measures in place in case of the spread of the coronavirus.

To learn more about Montemorelos University, it’s career programs, initiatives, and projects, visit um.edu.mx

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