For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic, Fairfield University’s Office of Student Engagement is hosting two overnight first-year orientation sessions, which will take place from June 21 to 22 and June 27 to 28. 

Staff and student employees within the Office of Student Engagement have rigorously prepared and planned events over the past several months to welcome incoming first-year students. 

Interning for the office, Nicholas Calabrese ‘24 explains that he has been doing “a lot of behind the scenes work,” training New Student Leaders as well as planning the orientation sessions themselves. 

Citing this summer’s events as the inaugural overnight orientations since “pre-COVID,” Calabrese is “really excited.”

He states further that an in-person and overnight orientation allows students “the best opportunity to get the most out of it.”

Each orientation session will provide incoming students with an opportunity to bond with their peers, become familiar with Fairfield’s campus and register for their fall courses. 

“It will be a lot of fun,” Calabrese says.

New Student Leaders have been on campus since June 14 and will complete their stay after the last orientation session. The student employees have been extensively preparing for the arrival of the Class of 2026, attending various training sessions and workshops surrounding student support. 

New Student Leader Zachary Vargas ‘24 relays, “being on Team 26 has been a great experience so far.”

He notes personal development from the experience as well saying, “from training activities to building team spirit, we are all transforming into well-esteemed representatives of Fairfield University.”

Returning as a New Student Leader for the third year, Stephanie Rodgers ‘23 describes her sentiments about Fairfield’s orientation plans. 

“I’m excited to see the campus through fresh eyes… to see how students are going about their college experience… it’s fun to be a part of that,” she explains. 

Assistant Director of Student Engagement within Transition and Retention, Casey Murray, explains her aspirations for orientation. 

“One of the main goals of orientation is helping incoming students feel comfortable and as though they made the best choice for themselves by choosing Fairfield,” she shares. 

Further, Casey states, “there’s so much planning that goes into every session because each session is designed to help make sure that students are set up for success when they arrive back on campus.”

Murray joined the Office in May 2022 and contextualizes that “this is [her] first orientation at Fairfield.” 

Responsible for planning “the first overnight event in a couple [of] years,” Murray relays that she “has been working on logistics and envisioning something [many of the current staff] have never seen happen before.”

Murray hopes that students look forward to all of the “interaction” they will have with their peers. She explains that the group of New Student Leaders, as well as the larger Office of Student Engagement, primarily seek to foster a sense of welcome among the incoming class. 

“We are very focused on building community right from the very first session and the breakout sessions we have with the NSLs,” she explains. 

Murray and the larger team of student leaders seek to introduce Fairfield University as a “home away from home” for students. 

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