BY Shannon szefinski
It is your first time staying over at Sacred Heart and you are fast asleep in an unknown dorm room. It is 6:30 a.m. and you jump awake to banging on doors and people chanting, “Sacred Heart wake up! Sacred Heart wake up!”
This is the traditional wake up that every student at orientation experiences while the orientation leaders yell down the hallways and bang on everyone’s door.
For incoming freshmen, the beginning of their transition to Sacred Heart can be unpredictable. Orientation leaders work to guide these students and their families to make the transition a smooth one.
To apply to be an orientation leader for this upcoming summer, you can pick up an application in the Student Life Office in Hawley Lounge by March 11. Once chosen, students will go through training which takes place the week before orientations begin.
“It was a great way to get to know my fellow orientation leaders and consisted of engaging activities that helped prepare us for this role,” said junior Alex Myers. “We participated in public speaking exercises, learned how to work in a team, and practiced being able to answer any potential questions from students or parents.”
Being a part of this program is more than simply planning and hosting freshman orientations. Orientation leaders play a role in immersing the new students into campus life during the First 50 Days event, which consists of an event taking place every day during the first 50 days of school.
“We do different kinds of activities that introduce students to the Student Events Team and Athletics, the Physical Therapy Club, Love Your Melon and Spectrum,” said junior Mae Archacki, Orientation Leader Co-Chair.
For many incoming freshmen, the orientation leaders are the first people they get to know at the university.
“I decided to become an orientation leader because they were my first introduction to Sacred Heart,” said sophomore Brian Ingegno. “Seeing the orientation leaders made me feel so welcomed to the school and it was something I wanted to do to make new students feel the same way I felt when I first came here.”
Sophomore Allie Miller will be applying to be an orientation leader for this same reason.
“I want to be a face that the incoming freshmen see and they know they can turn to for comfort and guidance,” said Miller.
While some students decided to become orientation leaders based on their own experience at freshman orientation, others applied as a way of getting more involved on campus.
“As a college student, it has helped me get involved, but that has also led into the real world by looking for opportunities and taking them,” said junior Justyna Jablonska, Orientation Leader Co-Chair. “That has honestly improved my life.”
After being an orientation leader for a year, many students believe they learned more about themselves through the experiences they had.
“I’ve developed many leadership skills,” said sophomore Kayleigh Murphy, First Year Experience Assistant Coordinator. “I’ve learned more about time management and professionalism, but have also learned about the importance of compassion and empathy.”
For these students who are leaders on campus, the skills they learn can be translated into life after college.
“When challenges and opportunities come my way, I say yes to them and go through with them, so it’s definitely improved my leadership skills and interpersonal skills,” said Jablonska.
There is also a social aspect to being a part of this program.
“It allowed me to break out of my shell and meet so many new people that are now some of my closest friends,” said Murphy.
“You’re going to learn so much about yourself and find out about what you’re passionate about,” said Archacki. “You’re really going to become part of a community with the other orientation leaders and find a group of people that will always have your back and can support you.”