PROFILE: Student Orientation Leader Welcomes UC’s Newest Students
Andrea England says she was so thrilled with her first year at UC that she wanted to give something back to the university. Now, she’s sharing her Bearcat pride with UC’s incoming freshman class.
Date: 7/12/2004 8:00:00 AM
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos By: Lisa Ventre
University of Cincinnati sophomore Andrea England is among the first upperclassmen that new UC students will meet as they attend their Bearcat Bound Orientation. Andrea is one of the 30 Student Orientation Leaders, or SOLs, who are leading students and their parents through the sessions and tours that will prepare them for campus life this fall.
The full Cincinnatus Scholarship recipient and Honors Scholar from Dublin, Va. started at UC last year, majoring in International Affairs with a minor in French. She remembers that one of her first student mentors on campus was 2003 SOL, Leslie Gerhardstein, who is now her sorority sister after Andrea followed in her mother’s footsteps and joined the Tri Delta sorority. She also recalls that even after orientation came to an end, Andrea was invited to keep in touch with her UC student mentors.
“My SOL, as well as a number of others with whom I became acquainted last summer, sent me home with their business cards and a sincere willingness to be contacted at any point when I arrived back on campus in September for class,” she says. “I would do nothing less for these entering freshmen. I believe that continuing support of these individuals shows dedication to the job, professionalism and respect for the university’s most valuable asset – students!”
It’s that support that helps first-year students adjust from high school to college. UC has numerous programs – ranging from socially based programs such as Welcome Week and Student Activities and Leadership Development – to academic support programs including Learning Communities and assistance provided through Educational Services and the Center for Exploratory Studies – that build on the student’s success in college by building student connections to campus and to programs of study.
Andrea’s preparation in becoming an SOL was extensive as she and her fellow SOLs familiarized themselves with the sessions they would lead at Bearcat Bound Orientation and some of the questions they might anticipate from students and parents. She says one of her favorite experiences at her own orientation was when students broke into small groups to design a flag to depict their vision of a Just Community. More than 190 such flags created at Andrea’s orientation were tied together and raised in a dramatic 48-foot by 48-foot banner at her Convocation last fall. Now, she’s sharing with new students UC’s Just Community initiative that builds on community, civic responsibility and character. “To me, Just Community creates a learning environment where students have the freedom to be and express themselves, while still respecting the diverse values of others.
“In my own flag-making session last summer, it was neat to see how some of the most quiet people who had been on the outskirts of the group during some of the other sessions jumped right in with some of the group’s most vocal members to make their mark on the flag. I think this flag-making tradition at orientation helps new students learn and understand UC’s values.”
Andrea adds that as she adjusted to college last year, she was pleasantly surprised to see a number of familiar faces as she became familiar with campus life. “I figured that since I was at such a large school, I’d rarely run into anyone I recognized. However, I found out that when I ran into my friends from my residence hall, my sorority sisters and other friends from Greek organizations, professors and advising staff, I was saying ‘hi’ to people around campus all the time! UC never had a cold, big-school feeling for me, which was definitely a positive surprise.”
Her advice to new students during their first quarter at UC is to explore UC’s many opportunities, but don’t join everything at once. “Most organizations recruit new members all year long, so take your time and join the groups that are the best fit for you!”
Bearcat Bound Orientation runs through July 30, but it won’t be the last time that new students see the SOLs in their black, red and white shirts and khaki shorts and slacks. Andrea and her 29 fellow SOLS will greet first-year students again when they arrive at UC for Welcome Week in the fall. Welcome Week begins with Convocation on Sept. 19.