Orientation Leader Greg Gantt (center) leads a discussion among incoming students.
Orientation Leaders help new Falcons SOAR
They begin arriving in May, carloads of incoming students and their families, groggy from waking early, in unfamiliar territory, excited but anxious about beginning the college orientation and registration process.
Luckily for BGSU, when it comes to receiving its newest members, the 20-plus students who serve as Orientation Leaders provide a warm welcome backed up by solid training and in-depth knowledge of the campus.
“We’re the first ones to interact with them, when we greet them in the parking lot. We pass them along all the way to their first stop,” said Greg Gantt, a junior from Akron majoring in sports management with a minor in public relations. “Right away we make them feel comfortable and accepted and let them know we’ll be there for them all day.”
Working long hours throughout the summer, sometimes even on Saturdays, these students handle each stage of the Falcon Student Orientation, Advising and Registration (SOAR) campus visit, from check-in to tours to informational panel discussions, assisting both students and families.
”They are the ones incoming students and their families want to hear from. We wouldn’t be able to provide such a high-quality program without them,” said Jessica Huddleston, assistant director of new student orientation and first-year programs.
Students and their families on campus for orientation often feel vulnerable, unsure of what will be expected of them and nervous about their upcoming separation from one another. The leaders play an important role in making the experience a positive one.
“It’s important to give the right answers. We take a whole semester to train in the spring, plus another week in May before SOAR begins,” said Michael Reilly, a senior from Dover majoring in math education who is also a campus tour guide. “We fill that gap between the faculty and staff and the students, and we can help faculty get information to students. The students are sometimes more comfortable talking to us.”
The two-credit leadership class orientation leaders must take teaches them to look first at themselves and build upon their strengths, he said. In addition to learning about the University and its resources, they connect as a team and discover one another’s areas of special expertise.
“Sometimes I don’t realize I’m helping someone, but even the smallest things you do make a big impact,” said Jessica Alt, a senior from Delphos majoring in human development and family studies with a minor in psychology. Like Reilly, she is also a team leader, in her second year with SOAR.
Prospective Orientation Leaders go through a highly selective process that includes group and individual interviews, in addition to recommendations. “They must be academically proficient, approachable, dependable, energetic and responsible,” Huddleston said.
The leaders are from diverse backgrounds, both academically and personally, but most are already highly involved with the University, either as resident advisers, tour guides or in student organizations.
Being an Orientation Leader pays dividends in several ways, in addition to the warm feeling from helping someone else. “It’s helped my public speaking skills and teaches me to think on my toes,” Gantt said. “It’s also made me more proud of BGSU, knowing all that it offers.”
Art student helps out at Believe Center
- The Blade
BGSU recognized on community service honor roll
Community service has long been a hallmark of the BGSU experience. The University’s commitment to both community service and to learning from it has earned BGSU a place on the 2012 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, published annually by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS).
BGSU was named to the Ohio “Honor Roll.” To be named to the Honor Roll, a school must demonstrate that its students, faculty and staff are engaged in meaningful service that achieves measurable results in the community.
The numbers of BGSU students participating and the hours they spent are impressive --over 9,000 students gave 174,423 hours. The three programs BGSU submitted to the committee as expressive of its service philosophy were:
Chapman Learning Community, an interdisciplinary, first-year residential living-learning community with a signature identity focused on service and civic engagement;
BG Teen Central, which serves seventh- and eighth-grade teens in Bowling Green. The program provides a safe space for teens without access to other options and focuses on tutoring, developmentally appropriate programming, and mentoring by college students;
MLK Jr. Day of Service Challenge, which symbolizes a commitment to high impact service. The challenge model encourages students to apply problem solving and critical thinking to accomplish a task and learn about social needs in northwest Ohio.
The CNCS oversees the Honor Roll in collaboration with the U.S. Departments of Education and Housing and Urban Development, Campus Compact and the American Council on Education.
Honorees are chosen based on a series of selection factors, including the scope and innovation of service projects, the extent to which service-learning is embedded in the curriculum, the school’s commitment to long-term campus-community partnerships, and measurable community outcomes as a result of the service.
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