When Jean Sincerbox graduated from Molloy College 30 years ago, the private Catholic school in Rockville Centre catered mostly to local students who commuted to classes.
In the years since she graduated, the school has built a new chapel, added new buildings, and Sunday, for the first time in its 56-year history, opened a residence hall where students from several states and countries will live on campus.
Sincerbox, a 1981 Molloy graduate, was back at the school Sunday to move in her daughter, Katherine Sincerbox, who, along with 106 other students, will live in the three-story residence hall.
"I'm never happy to leave her, but I'm excited for this experience," said Sincerbox, 52, a Rockville Centre native who lives in upstate Goshen and works as director of nursing for a long-term care facility. "I'm comfortable leaving her here."
Molloy, which has 4,200 undergraduate and graduate students, decided to add the residence hall to compete with other schools and attract students from farther away, said Steve Ostendorff, the college's director of residence life.
"We're trying to give students the experience of getting out on their own, learning about who they are and developing relationships outside of their parents' house," he said.
Katherine Sincerbox, 20, was looking for just that. "I didn't want to be a commuter student," she said. "Part of being in college is being on your own and making your own decisions."
She transferred from King's College in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., because the school didn't have her intended major. She'll be a junior studying speech pathology and audiology.
After visiting Molloy, Katherine Sincerbox said she felt at home because of the college's small class sizes and personable staff. The addition of student housing sealed the deal for her.
Molloy officials attended dozens of conferences and visited other schools to learn how to set up student housing and create communities within the dorms, Ostendorff said.
The residence hall was constructed and opened this year. Student residents pay between $9,090 and $10,400 a year to live in the dorms.
Freshman Alec Volpe, 18, of Glen Head, will live in the male section of the building -- the ground floor affectionately dubbed The Bat Cave. He'll major in business. "I want to get the college feel and be independent. It's an opportunity to try out being an adult."
He said he was pleasantly surprised by his new digs.
Meanwhile, Linwood Pitt, 22, a senior who is one of six resident advisers living in the building, said he's looking forward to the impact live-in students will have on the school.
"This is so historic for Molloy," said Pitt, of North Amityville. "It's going to change the culture of the school for the better. This is like ushering the school into a new era."