Orientation leaders: Leading new students into the future

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By: Bailey Gravely

For an incoming freshmen to Lander University enrolling in the fall, the journey begins with the acceptance letter given to them in the spring. These incoming freshmen finally become official bearcats at the close of the summer. Lander introduces these freshmen to their campus home with the help of some highly trained professionals, the orientation leaders.

Shelby Dominick, the director of Lander’s student programs and freshmen orientation leaders, explained what orientation leaders are. She said, “An orientation leader is a student who is trained to assist new and incoming students with the transition to college.”

It’s not exactly an easy task to become an orientation leader, but that shouldn’t discourage students from trying their best to become one. Dominick explained what it takes to become an orientation leader. She included the values that are expected of orientation leaders as they are applying for becoming a leader in the fall. Dominick stated, “Orientation leaders are expected to have great pride in their university; they must be passionate about helping others and they must be kind, courteous, and helpful.”

Dominick also explained when the application process for orientation leader begins, she described this by saying, “The application goes live in September. Twenty students are chosen to be orientation leaders per year and they range in classifications, majors, hometowns, and they are very diverse.”

When students become orientation leaders they will learn a new set of skills or they will be able to refine skills that they may already possess. “These skills are problem solving, they have the ability to decipher information and campus lingo, they learn teamwork and team dynamics and they learn the values of customer service,” Dominick provided. Dominick continued to talk about how the students learn these skills by saying, “They go to training every Tuesday night from October to April. In the fall they go to a special class for one hour on Tuesdays and in the spring they continue this class for two hours on Tuesdays.”    

Orientation leaders that are chosen for each year go through this vigorous training during the school year and then in spring they go to a special retreat for training. Dominick explained, “This year’s team just returned from their retreat from the University of Central Florida. They earned their first award, the award was for problem solving for a case study. Each university can only send two students into the case study competition. Lander was represented by Lindsey Loparo, a Mass Communications major, and Brianna Buckner, an English Education major.”

Like every organization or club on Lander’s campus, the Lander Orientation leaders play their part in making Lander’s campus complete. Dominick shared about the importance of these individuals to the student body by saying, “They are the value to the student body because they act as a primary vehicle for teaching new students. They assist in helping the student body grow and become a whole. The better trained they are the more value they serve to the student body.”

One of the things that orientation leaders will always do to impact the incoming freshmen that are a part of the student body is the friendships that most of the freshmen end up developing with their leaders. Later when class begins and the freshmen have questions or need help to settle in, they will know that they have a friend with experiences and knowledge to help them get through their first semester. Orientation leaders make the process of coming to university less frightening for freshmen and the leadership that the orientation leaders provide remind all students that Lander’s student body is a thriving and ever growing community where everyone is welcome.   

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