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Students Are at the Center of the UC Experience During Summer Orientation

There will be no summer break for UC students like Taylor Birch, who underwent an intensive training program to welcome UC’s new students to Bearcat Bound Orientation.

Date: 6/29/2009
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos By: Dottie Stover
Taylor Birch of Columbus, Ohio, wrapped up her finals in spring quarter and then dove into an experience to help make her one of the best-informed student ambassadors of the University of Cincinnati. It was an intensive preparation program for UC’s 32 Student Orientation Leaders (SOLs, pronounced “souls”) who welcome new students and their families to their two-day Bearcat Bound Orientation June 29 through Aug. 13. As upperclassmen, part of the job of the SOLs is to share their personal experience of what it’s like to be a student at UC.
Taylor Birch
Taylor Birch

“It’s a demanding job,” says Sarah Leggesse, director of Orientation Services. “Our SOLs are working from 6 a.m. through 9 p.m. during summer Orientation.” They also stay overnight in Calhoun Hall with the freshmen from out of town.

The job requires attending workshops that get underway when spring quarter is still in session, as well as attending a four-day June summer retreat to build skills in leadership, communication and teamwork.


Birch, a 20-year-old UC junior and an addictions studies major and deaf studies minor in the UC College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services (CECH), says she thought that being a SOL would be a fun opportunity to serve as a mentor to new students. “I’m even more excited about meeting the parents,” she says.

Birch is a recipient of the Darwin T. Turner Scholarship to promote academic excellence, scholarship and diversity – values emphasized by UC’s Just Community initiative. She says next year, she will be awarded a scholarship from CECH and Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., an organization to support the urban community through promoting leadership.

She will serve as a CECH Student Ambassador in the fall, assisting the college with the recruitment and retention of students as well as performing service through events and activities. The selection of the student ambassadors is an honor that recognizes CECH students’ academic progress and commitment to their field of study. She also is a CECH representative for Student Government as a member of the CECH Tribunal.


Over the next academic year, Birch will serve as vice president of the United Black Student Association (UBSA) and will serve as secretary for Shades of You, a UC student organization for women of color. She says she also plans to volunteer as a troop leader for Girl Scouts of America.

Birch recalls that it was her former fifth-grade teacher who suggested she might want to visit the University of Cincinnati as she was considering college. “I really wanted to go out of state, but the cost was just too expensive,” she says. “So, my mom and I visited two college campuses in Ohio, and when I came here to visit, I felt like I was home.”

She says that getting involved in campus activities has also enhanced her academic experience. “When you’re active on campus, you have to organize and prioritize your time. Joining organizations helps give you the motivation to be your very best both in and out of the classroom,” she says. “But, you also need to learn how to balance your time and not over-commit yourself to extracurricular activities. You’re making a big investment in your education. Skip a class and you’ve just paid a good sum of money for nothing.”

She adds that during fall quarter, there is one extracurricular activity that a freshman must commit to. “You have to go to the first football game. It’s so exciting,” she says. “Of course, as we got closer and closer to the Orange Bowl last year, every home game was exciting!”

New students coming to Bearcat Bound Orientation are invited to bring a canned or non-perishable food item when they check in at the Visitors Center in University Pavilion, where decorated barrels will serve as collection points. Donations will be delivered to Matthew 25 Ministries, an international humanitarian relief organization based in Cincinnati and founded by UC alumnus Wendell Mettey. Organizers report that last year’s collection during Orientation resulted in 2,354 canned food items to feed hungry families.

UC Orientation Information

UC Orientation Hotline: 513-556-2486

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