Fresh faces arrive on campus this weekend, as Towson University ushers in the new student population during its “Welcome to Towson” orientation program.
But while new students are taking that first step of college life, their future peers are making sure everything goes perfectly from the moment they arrive on campus.
New Student Programs and their group of five student directors help plan and organize all the events associated with “Welcome to Towson.” These tasks include marketing, customer service, hiring orientation leaders, ordering food and much more.
Director of New Student Programs Lisa Reagle says she is there if the student directors need her, but the students really put a Towson touch on the orientation event.
“I couldn’t imagine doing what we do without them,” Reagle said. “It’s easy to know what benchmarks you need to meet based on orientation standards that are set for every university. But what makes it the Towson experience is having Towson students plan it. They add the energy, the Towson flavor, and they’re who the students are hoping to see.”
New Student Programs consists of five student directors: Brad Zaucha ’16 (Marketing and Outreach); Marisa Nelson ’15 (Logistics and Operations); Nia Nyamweya ’15 (Staffing and Personnel); Noah Lattner ’16 (Assessment); and Taylor Sevik ’15 (Customer Service).
New Student Programs also includes 13 student orientation team leaders and 154 student orientation leaders. This helps every incoming student have at least one current student they can relate to.
“We have all these people that have experienced almost every situation,” Zaucha said. “There is at least one orientation leader who can be like, ‘You’re worried about these things? I’ve been through that.’’’
The idea of “been there, done that” comes in handy during orientation. New students seem to be more trusting of those who are currently living the college experience.
“It’s different hearing it from a student,” Lattner said. “A staff member can go on and on about something, and be 100 percent right. But as soon as a student says the exact same thing, it adds some credibility because the lack of age difference.”
“Welcome to Towson” events and programs are designed to get new students accustomed to college and Towson University. Events include cookouts, movies, a welcome concert, hot air balloon rides, and chances to meet with clubs and organizations.
One new event is “TU Up Late”, which is held on Saturday night and includes recreational activities, art activities and what is being called the “The First Night Experience.”
“There is a misconception that everyone goes out on their first night of college,” Sevik explains. “First Night Experience has everyone go to the union and enjoy all these different events. All weekend there will be events for all types of students. There will truly be something for everyone.”
Along with planning and executing events, student directors also help train team leaders and orientation leaders. That’s one of the easier parts of the job description, since all the student directors were once orientation leaders themselves.
“We want to show the orientation leaders they can be strong and make a positive impact on campus,” Nyamweya said. “It feels good that what you put in, the passion and drive for welcoming new students into our community, is going to come back tenfold.”
Student directors aren’t just around for orientation weekend. They are hired in November so that they can plan not only orientation weekend, but also the summer Tiger Talks events.
With orientation happening a few days before the start of the term, TU uses several Tiger Talks events over the summer to introduce new students to the Towson culture and answer any questions they might have.
Being able to plan and run Tiger Talks and orientation allows student directors to talk to new students, plan events and show off their university.
“I wanted to get more involved on campus, and I applied to be an orientation leader and it kind of spun off from there,” Nelson said. “I love being able to answer questions and ease any concerns they have coming into college. But while directly talking to freshmen is great, I love being able to plan events and provide them with all these great experiences and activities.”
The activities are not just for freshmen, as New Student Programs also have events set up for commuters and transfer students.
To learn more about this weekend’s “Welcome to Towson,” and for a complete schedule of events, visit the New Student Programs website.