When I look back on my freshman, two-day orientation, so many interesting things come to mind. I remember feeling the stress of deciding – or not deciding – on a major, selecting classes and awkwardly introducing myself to those in my group.
I remember looking up to the orientation leaders, so composed and ready to take on the day, while I tried to remember as much information as possible. I had no idea that one day I would be on the other side of orientation as an Orientation Leader, helping students just like myself who were overwhelmed and anxious at the thought of attending college.
Every one of us has survived orientation. For most of us, orientation was a whirlwind as we digested the information thrown at us by people in blue and green polos. For some, it was the first time we saw the campus, spent the night in student housing and created a schedule all on our own. For all of us, no matter where we were coming from, it was our first experience of being a student at FGCU.
This summer, I served on the Eagle View Orientation team (EVO). I represented the most amazing university with the most incredible staff by my side. I gave mini tours of the campus and advised students on what classes to take, but, most importantly, I had the opportunity to make nervous students excited about being here.
EVO didn’t just affect the students experiencing it for the first time; each session brought the orientation leaders new lessons as well.
“Orientation is a once-in-a-lifetime experience where you learn so much, not just about the university, but about yourself,” said Kaitlyn Bolander, the orientation leader for the panthers. “It’s given me more confidence, and it’s ultimately developed me into a person I’ve always wanted to be.”
For some, orientation even changed their career path.
“I think orientation has impacted me significantly. I think it’s almost developed me into a better person, a better individual. It has given me relationships and connections that I’ll never forget, and it kind of pushed me forward into a passion of what I want to do for the rest of my life,” said Michael Rybak, the orientation leader for the armadillos.
Orientation Leaders are a huge part of orientation, but parent program assistants and the administrative staff also complete the team and keep EVO running smoothly.
“I assisted with the parent and family programs by facilitating presentations by the university and by various university departments,” said Ian Knight, a Parent Program Assistant. “At any given time, you had to understand that it is a parent or student’s first time interacting with you, whether it is the first or the eleventh program.”
The administrative staff is also vital to the success of the program, and without their hard work, orientation could not happen. Administrative positions are open for those who may be more interested in behind-the-scenes work.
“Our main job is to work at the McTarnaghan Hall front desk. We organize the nametags, bags, t-shirts, lanyards, evening snacks, luggage, make appointments for students, etc. We are organizing all of the materials for the next program,” said Josh Langkopp, a member of the administrative staff, “For example, if we are currently in the 5th program of the summer then the Administrative Team is already preparing for the 6th program.”
Administrative staff and Parent Program Assistants are able to take classes over the summer, however, Orientation Leaders are unable to take classes due to the work demand. All members staffed under EVO are housed in South Village for the entire duration of the orientation sessions.
The entire EVO team displays an overwhelming sense of passion, regardless of the position they had, or which animal group they led.
“Orientation gave me the experience of a lifetime. I was able to make friends with other strong leaders on this campus while showing others why I love FGCU so much,” said Jalisa White, a Parent Program Assistant. “Being able to help the families of students learn more about the university gave me a sense of pride in my school, all while learning about my leadership styles and having fun.”
When it came to describing how the EVO team experience changed their lives, none of them were at a loss for words.
“Orientation has changed my life quite a bit. It has made me more confident as a person and as a leader,” said Langkopp.
So how can you get involved? Applications to be a part of EVO come out Sept. 30 and can be found online or in McTarnaghan Hall, room 229. You can indicate which part of the team you’re looking to be involved in: orientation leader, parent program assistant, or administrative staff. The deadline is Oct. 31 by 5 p.m.
Any position on the orientation team is for students who are ready to learn, lead and serve.
“If the opportunity presents itself, take it. Run for it, go for it. Give it your all because it might be the best experience you will ever have as an individual,” said Rybak.