By Audrey Niblo
When Sacred Heart University students begin their journey as Pioneers, the individuals entrusted with familiarizing new students to campus are known as Orientation Leaders.
Orientation Leaders (OL) are sophomores, juniors, and seniors who introduce new students to Sacred Heart by helping them get acclimated to campus life through a variety of activities and workshops.
“A huge reason I wanted to be an OL was because of my orientation leader,” said junior Andrew Patino. “They were the first people I got to know who really loved this school. After seeing them, I knew I would like it here. I wanted to be able to do the same for others.”
These leaders play an integral role in helping students make their transition from high school to college. They also in many cases help ease the fears that students may have regarding their future in college.
“For me, it was giving back to everything Sacred Heart has given me,” said junior Angelina Pagano. “My first year at SHU was incredible and everything I had dreamed it would be. The campus instantly became my home away from home. I wanted to show the incoming freshman that this is truly your home for the next four years. And orientation is only the first step,” Pagano said.
Being an OL is certainly not for everyone, as it takes a certain type of person to be able to best represent the student body that incoming students are about to join.
Patino is now the coordinating team member for Orientation Leaders.
“An important characteristic you need in order to be an orientation leader is being a good team player. All of the Orientation Leaders lean on each other to get the job done. it just wouldn’t be possible alone,” said Patino.
Another important attribute to this role is being active on campus.
“Being involved. Many incoming freshmen come in with questions, and the best way to adapt to college is by being involved. Personable, willing to be a little crazy, flexible with not only your orientees, but the other orientation leaders,” said Pagano. “Their thoughts might differ from yours, and so you work together as a team. And all in all, just a love for Sacred Heart University.”
Some students may be worried about applying to become an OL, but for the students who have been involved in the past agree that the rewards certainly outweigh the risks.
“If you’re on the fence about applying to be an OL, just take the chance. it was really one of the best decisions I made,” said Patino.
Orientation leaders are also responsible for making sure freshmen start college feeling comfortable and excited.
“It’s a scary thought, but this experience is so rewarding. It is something you’ll look back on and be honored at that you were selected to be a part of something so wonderful,” said Pagano.
Freshman Orientation is also where many students meet some of their first friends in college. These will be people they spend the next four years of their college career with.
“An orientation leader is in charge if the orientees during the time of their visit. Orientation leaders make sure the orientees are at each session when they should be, answering all their questions, and helping them to come out of their shell a little bit,” said Pagano.
The three orientation sessions are not all about having fun; they also take a lot of effort and collaboration.
“You work with the fellow Orientation Leaders, and complete tasks to make sure orientation runs smoothly. For example, organizing the key cards students use to get into their rooms, setting up and registering students when they first arrive, and stuffing the orientation bags. We chant in the morning to wake up the orientees. We hated the wake-up call during our orientation as orientees, but being on the other side, we love it,” said Pagano.
If students wish to apply to be an Orientation Leader, they can stop by the Student Life office in Hawley Lounge to pick up an application.