Orientation leaders embrace new Falcons

Hannah Benson and Hannah Benson

SOAR leaders spend the majority of their summer facilitating orientation for new incoming students.

SOAR, Student Orientation, Advising and Registration, takes place three times a week from late May to mid-July.

Jessica Huddleston, Assistant Dean of Students, said the team of 20 leaders come from a variety of different backgrounds.

Leaders are selected after attending information sessions in October, writing personal statements and completing group and individual interviews, Huddleston said.

She said diversity on all levels is important for the SOAR team to have in order to appeal to the diverse student population coming into the University.

While the stereotype is for the leaders to be loud and outgoing, Huddleston said they also need and look for more reserved leaders.

Diversity with personalities is encouraged, as well as a love for BG and leadership, Huddleston said.

After being selected, new SOAR leaders must complete two parts to their training.

The first is a two-credit hour course on training in orientation, which is taught by SOAR Team Leaders.

Team leaders are unique in that they have participated as SOAR leaders previously; all other SOAR Leaders can only serve for one summer.

This year’s team leaders include senior Alison Brousseau, senior Carlye Pollack, Junior Zach Jung and Senior Emily Skibski.

Brousseau said the diversity helps them grow as leaders because they must learn how to work with different personalities.

“As a team leader, you get to see yourself expand and help other leaders expand as well,” Pollack said.

Brousseau said she enjoys this program and being a team leader because she enjoys working with leaders.

Pollack said she initially wanted to be a SOAR leader to gain leadership experience, but after participating in the program, said it has come to mean so much more than that to her.

“It’s developing a foundation for who you are going to be for the rest of your life,”Pollack said. “I think that’s what this program does; it literally shapes you into being a leader, a student leader and being a role model to your peers.”

Jung said he thought he knew everything he needed to know about leadership from high school, but since being involved with SOAR has “learned more about the foundation of leadership.”

“I’m all about knowledge and growth and I never think anyone is ever done learning, which is why I wanted to apply to be a team leader,” Jung said.

A SOAR Leader’s day starts at 5 a.m. with waking up and getting to what the leaders call “go time” by 6:15 a.m.

This is a time for the leaders to have a morning huddle and participate in an energizer to get excited for the day.

Then they set up from 6:45 a.m. until guests start arriving at 7:15 a.m.

Once guests have arrived, the team leaders conduct the welcome session, where the students are separated from the parents and then separated even more by college.

Throughout the day, different leaders have different responsibilities they must complete.

Checkout can end anytime from 4-5 p.m.

At the checkout, new students receive their official BG i.d.

The team leaders said they enjoy seeing the excitement on students’ faces when they receive their i.d.’s and Brousseau said she makes the students make two promises.

“One, never ever ever root for Toledo and the amount of people who gave me these looks like ‘I would never!’ just made me so happy,” Brousseau said. “Then I told them to wear orange and brown on Falcon Fridays, they were like ‘of course, not even a problem’. Hearing their responses to that kind of a thing shows they are getting excited.”

BG pride is stressed throughout the day with the BG chant during the welcome session and the Freddie and Frieda coming to lunch because the goal is to have the students fall in love with campus.

“To see the students you worked with going to class and falling in love with campus and getting involved is the absolute coolest thing in the entire world,” Brousseau said, “I don’t even care if they know I was their orientation leader, I just love being able to see them personally succeeding.”

Jung also said seeing the students they worked with in the summer is a rewarding experience.

“It makes it so real to see them in the fall,” Jung said. “To see them ready to take on the next four years is remarkable.”