A year and a half ago when I officially committed to Keene State and stepped foot on campus, I never thought I would wear the infamous red shirt and khaki shorts and become an orientation leader.

I am a part of the Keene State class of 2019, which was the first incoming class to experience June orientation, which at the time was a brand new component of the orientation program. Going into this part of the program, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I was just a recent high school graduate with my whole life ahead of me, leaving behind what I had known for nineteen years. How was my orientation experience going to pan out? Was I going to make friends easily? Was I going to get along with my roommate? Many thoughts circulated through my mind during those two days in June. That all changed when I met my orientation leader, Kelsey.

She became my first friend at Keene. She immediately took me under her wing, helped me out when I needed it most – basically treated me like a little brother. She was the main reason that I had such a smooth transition into Keene. During this time, I realized how energetic and outgoing everyone else on the orientation staff was. At this time, I thought to myself, “All these leaders are having so much fun. I want to do this.”

Photo by Luke Stergiou / Senior Photographer

Photo by Luke Stergiou / Senior Photographer

When orientation ended, the constant questions of, “How do I become an orientation leader?” and “How do I do for other students what Kelsey did for me?” was stuck in the back of my mind. When applications for orientation staff came out, I got my hands on one, filled it out as soon as possible and handed it in just two days after the applications were released. I wanted to do everything I possibly could to ensure I got this position. After the whole interview process a few weeks went buy, and I had finally received the email I was eagerly anticipating for. When I read it, I was not too sure how to feel.

I was given the alternate position. This position basically means you weren’t guaranteed a position at first, but if someone dropped out, an alternate could fill that position. On one hand, I was happy to not be rejected for this position. On the other hand, I was bummed not to get the position from the start. The alternate position meant I spent all spring semester training with all the other selected staff, somewhat doubting myself, unsure of whether or not I would actually get this position. But I put those thoughts behind and focused on doing everything I possibly could to help myself get this position.

As the spring semester was coming to an end, I was growing increasingly anxious as this was the point where alternates would be told whether or not they would be chosen to fill a position. After months of patiently waiting, all my hard work paid off and I was chosen to be an orientation leader. I nearly broke my chair jumping from excitement after receiving the email.

When I returned to Keene in June, I had no idea just how much time and effort it took to be an orientation leader. After many days of training, asking a multitude of questions and functioning on little sleep, it was finally time to start orientation. I now had to become the parental figure, the mentor, the helper, the leader. I had to answer all the student’s questions, I had to constantly check in on them, making sure they are prepared for their first year of college. But no matter how much you do as a first year orientation leader, you will always have doubts. “Am I doing enough?”, “did I tell my students the wrong information?”, “will my students respect me?” But no matter how you think you’re doing, the other staff and coordinators will always support you. I know there were days where I felt like I failed and did not do enough, but there was always another staff member to ensure I was doing just fine.

After a hectic four sessions in June, and an even more stressful and chaotic week in August, orientation was done. I really couldn’t believe it. My first year of being an orientation leader was done. I never thought a program like this could change and sculpt me as a better person. The orientation program molded me into a leader that I never thought I could be. I now have fifty new, amazing friends who I would have never met if it was not for this program. The orientation program is by far the most rewarding experience I have ever been a part of, because of it I now love this school even more, and I am proud of the person and leader I have become.

Luke Stergiou can be contacted at lstergiou@kscequinox.com.