ROCHESTER, Minn. (FOX 47) -- The University of Minnesota Rochester welcomed hundreds of students to their first day of classes on Tuesday.
The sidewalks of the Med City have long been dominated by professionals, tourists and locals alike. But for the past few years, some new faces in town are changing pedestrian traffic from that of downtown workers to students and faculty.
"It's been nice, a lot of young, fresh faces," said Kirk Gordon, owner of Potbelly Sandwich Shop. "We've seen lots of students, starting to see the staff come in, too -- definitely seeing business pick up as they roll into town."
UMR's close proximity to Mayo Clinic and its many professionals allow students a unique opportunity to network and gain hands on experience.
"It was definitely the deciding factor because you get to see all the opportunities that exist in Rochester and get to walk in the hallway with professionals that you're looking to be one day" said freshman Karlie Loewen.
As a freshman, Loewen will be joining more than 175-new students as the 5th class to study at the Rochester campus. Assistant Vice Chancellor Jay Hesley said the university now caters to more than 725 students, though the final count won't be taken until the tenth day of classes.
"Our growth is very structured, our goal is to each year bring in an additional 25 new students each year," Hesley said.
Even with hundreds of UMR "Raptors" walking among us, the university says classrooms next to the boardrooms and hospital rooms of Rochester are changing the face of the Med City.
"The new face is obviously younger," Hesley said. "It's very different. These are students who are very passionate about their careers, they want to go into. It's really in line with what this community wants to be and they're much more engaged than, I believe, students were ten years ago."
"One of the main reasons I really like the campus is because it's so small," said Junior Dylan Gilbertson. "All the class sizes are small. It's really easy to get in touch with your professor and they know you by name."
While the school is still small enough where everyone knows your name, it's quickly making its mark on the next generation of Rochester professionals. Hesley said the university plans on adding more classrooms over the next few years to accommodate their steady growth.
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