Driving into Fairfield on the first day of Orientation, Sherice Reid ’16 knew she wanted to be a New Student Leader.
“It’s what made me realize that I’m really going to college,” Reid said. “I drove in and said, ‘Mom I’m going to be that person at the gate yelling for somebody else.’”
After being part of the behind-the-scenes Orientation Support Team the year before, Reid wanted to “have a greater impact” on the students, leading to her applying for the NSL position.
By getting involved on campus, Reid said she “saw what Fairfield had to offer and how many great people [there] are here.” She is one of 50 NSLs and 31 OSTs prepared to welcome the class of 2018.
“It’s my job to make sure they have a nice, smooth transition without feeling overwhelmed,” Reid added. “I’m kind of the backbone for them, so they know they can come to me for anything.”
For Co-Chair Amanda Murphy ’16, it’s hard to “believe that orientation is already here.
“All of our work, we kind of see pieced together once the NSLs get here, and it kind of falls into place, and it’s going to be weird to see it all play out,” Murphy said. “It’s definitely a rewarding job.”
She joins Jeannette Eckelman ’16, Meghan Warchol ’16 and Alli Scheetz ’16 as co-chairs for Orientation.
Besides placing First Year students into FYE sections, choosing meeting locations and planning out skits for the sessions, “a big part of our job is facilitating the training for NSLs,” said Murphy. “We make sure they know everything they need to know before they go into Orientation.”
While OSTs train for two and a half days, the five-day training for NSLs includes safe-space training, learning how to be an inclusive community and discussing group dynamics.
Run by William Johnson, associate dean of students and director of student diversity programs, and Jocelyn Collen, campus minister for immersions and pilgrimages, safe-space training “covered everything from LGBTQ inclusion to being a welcoming community in general,” said Murphy.
Reid explained that a large portion of the training has been about “how to properly interact … [and] how to address certain situations.”
An emphasis is placed on not using gender specific terms, added Reid, “because we’re an inclusive community so we don’t want to say ‘hey guys’ because it’s going to put everyone in an awkward position.”
According to Program Director Nicole Heller, the Student Programs and Leadership Development and Orientation program have been following the theme of “connect, inspire and thrive.” She aims to have students “connect with each other, be inspired and thrive here at the University.
“We want the First Year students to be connected, looking forward to September and to understand that there’s a place for every one of them here,” Heller said.
The two Orientation sessions on June 18-19 and June 23-24 focus on social and academic areas.
“It changed with the Class of 2014 where students now register for classes during orientation and meet with professors,” Heller explained. During their registration, First Years were able to select their top three choices for a group during Orientation and “we do our best to place them in those.”
With an average session of 12 students in over 40 NSL groups, students are able to meet half of the people that will be in their First Year Experience, which takes place during the school year. The groups aim to unite incoming students based on common interests ranging from sports to service learning to music.
The NSLs leading the Career section, the most popular group according to Murphy, have been working with the Career Planning Center to cover topics such as professionalism and branding.
For Tim Dessureau ’16, being an OST means giving back to the Fairfield community that helped him during his transition into college.
“I want First Year students to feel comfortable and start to make new friends and see how great Fairfield is and how great the community is,” Dessureau said.
Sophomore Karyn Ryan views the OST position as an opportunity to “make sure [First Years] have a good experience like I had.”