Welcome to Eastern University: New Student Orientation debuts during 2019 Orientation Week.

This semester, new students were welcomed into the Eastern community by members of a brand-new program: New Student Orientation leaders. These volunteers committed to supporting and guiding incoming students through their first couple of days at Eastern by leading orientation activities. Orientation leaders were tasked with facilitating name games, answering new students’ questions and showing them around campus. The groups were made up of two leaders and anywhere between 15 – 25 new students. 

This way of setting up the program works much better, because it allows for a much more personal relationship with new students as well as releases Resident Assistants (RAs) and chaplains from responsibility. 

New student orientation leaders are able to give their all to one position, instead of spreading themselves thin. It also creates another point of contact for new students. 

By having an RA, a chaplain, and an orientation leader, new students are given at least three returning students to look to for advice and help throughout the semester. 

Every orientation leader had a different reason for volunteering for the position, but all had a genuine desire to serve the incoming Eastern students. Remarkably, many orientation leaders were Sophomores who had just gone through orientation only a year ago. 

Emily Stevens, one of the volunteers, said she had a personal connection to orientation. “I actually did it because I met most of my friends during orientation. I wanted to be that person that could help others do the same.” 

A resounding theme of orientation this year was the phrase “Welcome Home.” As orientation leaders sought to make new students feel a comfortable sense of belonging at Eastern, they centered around the idea of making Eastern feel like home to new students, especially during their first weeks at Eastern. 

The orientation program also encouraged new students to grow during their time at Eastern through the phrase “Grow deep roots.” This concept symbolized the change and progress students are encouraged to make at Eastern. This growth is meant to stem specifically from the university’s core beliefs of faith, reason and justice. 

Orientation is one of the first chances students have to connect with their peers and begin to build relationships, and facilitating that experience was important to many of the leaders. For many, this meant getting to watch their students bond and create new relationships. 

“I really liked it because the people in my group became friends, really good friends, with each other,” said Sofia Na, one of the orientation leaders. “They sat together in the dining commons, and they hang out all the time, which is great.” 

Not only did the new students have a chance to connect, though, the leaders also got to connect with fellow leaders. 

New Student Orientation leaders moved onto campus on Aug. 17, five days before the new students arrived. They spent the next week training by learning how to manage group games, answer questions accurately and care for new students as best as possible. 

“My favorite thing about being a leader was the training, because I liked getting to know so many people. Of course I liked getting to know the freshmen too, but it was cool getting to know the other leaders,” Stevens said. 

The program has officially completed its inaugural run, and many leaders look forward to what’s in store for the future. By designating the role of orientation leader specifically to those who volunteer for it, the program is open to a host of possibilities in the future. 

“I think it could amount to so much,” Stevens, when asked what she sees next for the program. “We had a lot of really good ideas that we couldn’t even necessarily facilitate, but I think as the program grows it’s just gonna get better and better.”

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