Today, I met a young woman taking a campus tour accompanied by her grandparents. The tour guide introduced us and informed me that the student was enrolled for the fall, but had not been able to visit campus before making the trip across the country to attend orientation.
I never cease to be inspired by young people who take a leap of faith and enroll in an institution not because of how it made them feel (although that can be a surprisingly important point of discernment), but because through careful study they have determined that that university’s curriculum, or setting, or articulation of community values resonates with their aspirations and expectations.
We have about 140 returning student leaders who will play a variety of roles in orientation later this week. They are our RAs, SCAs, and the infamous O-Team. This remarkable group of young people has committed a week of their lives to help our incoming students to become “oriented,” to feel valued, and to make the most of one of the biggest transitions in their lives. Many of these student leaders have told me that their own orientation experience was significantly transforming, and they want to help incoming students to “love Susquehanna as much as we do.”
While our student leaders were preparing to welcome the incoming first years and transfers, our faculty were engaged in a series of valuable workshops with goals that meaningfully overlap with the students’ preparations. The faculty spent the morning refining strategies for improved advising, particularly as it applies to our GO Program (Thanks to Swarna Basu, Jimmy Black, Scott Manning, and DuBois Jennings for their presentations). The faculty spent the afternoon in a session with Randy Bass, Vice Provost for Education and Professor of English at Georgetown University, discussing new paradigms for integration and inclusion in the teaching and learning work we do with students (Kudos to Betsy Verhoeven and Matthew Duperon for their work in organizing this session).
The energy and purpose of my colleagues and our student leaders to prepare our campus for the incoming students was a wonderful affirmation that the young woman I met earlier in the day had made a great decision—sight unseen. In the coming days, I know she will be happy in her choice. We are delighted that she is here.