HATTIESBURG, MS (WLOX) - Construction is moving along nicely at William Carey University in Hattiesburg, and so is student enrollment months after a tornado ripped through the campus.
The university has seen a steady increase in enrollment over the past three trimesters.
"I'm really impressed, and I'm really pleased that enrollment has been up, especially after everything that's happened. They're continuing to support a great university and something that when it's finished will have amazing potential beyond what it originally had," said sophomore Dalton Stanford.
Nearly 4,700 students are signed up for the fall trimester. This fact has taken some students by surprise.
"I was here during the tornado. I didn't think anybody would come back, really. If anything, I figured the numbers would go down, but it's great. I'm glad there's a lot of people here," said junior Greg Dearman.
Many of the incoming freshmen said several things factored into their decision to sign up.
"Seems like people care here more than any other university I've ever been to," said freshman Jacob Plocher.
Plocher was on a visit to the school when the tornado roared through back in January, damaging every building on campus.
"It was scary, and just seeing all the destruction after that, it was bad. But, it's grown so much since then, and it looks so much better now," said Plocher.
The seemingly quick comeback of the campus has many students at the Christian university pointing to the divine.
"Faith in God. I mean, God can create miracles, so I trust that he can do anything," said student Rylee Hill.
Wednesday marked the first day that the students met in the auditorium for chapel since the storm. The guest speaker was former attorney general John Ashcroft. He was glad to see the university was growing.
"Students understand the unique character of this institution that provides a well-rounded education that includes enhancing their spiritual understanding," said Ashcroft.
Construction is slated to be completed on the Hattiesburg campus by next fall. This will include new dorms, a new administration building, and much more.