‘O’ staff experiences ‘first connection—first friend’ for Keene State College class of 2017

The orientation leaders at Keene State College help guide the first years into one of the newest and most exciting phases of a student’s academic career. Orientation Leaders are the first impression for the first years as students here at KSC. “We are their first connection to the campus.  We help to make sure that their schedule is in order, answer any questions they might have, try and calm their nerves. We consider ourselves as their first friend on campus,” senior and Physical Education major Marc Young said.

Orientation leaders work well into the summer to e-mail their future orientation groups and advise them before they come to campus.

Will Wrobel/Contributed Photo: Orientation Staff for Class of 2017

Will Wrobel/Contributed Photo: Orientation Staff for Class of 2017

Young, who is on his second year as an orientation leader, was chosen to be an election assistant for the orientation leaders this past semester.

Young worked with the orientation coordinators to hire staff. “A very cool experience. It was fantastic being able to help hire the staff,” he said. In the end, he helped hire 45 staff, with five alternates.

Orientation leaders begin training in the spring, and then everyday throughout the summer.

“You grow very close during the week of orientation,” Young said of his co-leaders, “We spend every waking hour together every day. It’s kind of like a brotherhood,” he said.

Young spoke passionately and highly of his fellow Orientation Leaders and of what goes into their role of being a leader.  Besides Young, his co-leaders, Junior, Adam Beaulieu and Senior, Jenny Ahlquist spoke admiringly of the orientation staff. “There were 49 total people involved and we want to see each other all the time even now,” Beaulieu said. Beaulieu is an architecture and occupational safety and health minor.

Ahlquist added, “It’s never too late to make friends even though I’m a senior. You meet really good people that you click with easily.”

Ahlquist is a social studies major who said she was inspired to become more involved on campus and help the first years transition.

Ahlquist said she was so happy to be chosen as an orientation leader staff member.

“I knew that it was really competitive and not everybody would get it. It was one of my last chances to get involved,” Ahlquist said.

After spending the summer together preparing, the orientation leaders lead a group consisting of students with the same or similar interest in majors, and undecided students.  The week of orientation has various programs that are designed based on different facets of the campus including what they can get involved in, the resources that are available to them, programs based on cultural diversity, sexual violence prevention, financial aid, and academic and career advising.

Contributed photo Seniors Yana Riendeau and Marc Young thumbs up on Fiske Quad during 1355 Nights, which is a celebration of the new students being 1355 nights away from graduation.

Contributed photo
Seniors Yana Riendeau and Marc Young thumbs up on Fiske Quad during 1355 Nights, which is a celebration of the new students being 1355 nights away from graduation.

Young explained how important it is for the orientation staff to be knowledgeable about the campus.

“A lot of the orientation leaders are very involved in all areas of campus. Every one of the staff brings their own piece of what they are involved in,” Young said. “You have to be outgoing [and] friendly.”

One of the most significant welcoming techniques that orientation leaders participate in is the “clap in” for the first years.

“It makes them feel accepted and welcome,” said Ahlquist.

“I think the clap in is their experience knowing that this is your school and we’re here for you and we can’t wait to see you grow and blossom here. They are the rising class. They are going to make the difference. I think it’s exciting for the faculty to see the new faces because they’re going to impact these people,” she continued.

Ahlquist expressed how much she wanted to make sure that her group saw everything on campus and to get them excited.

She said, “I really wanted my first years to fall in love with Keene. I’ve always been passionate about telling others about Keene. I had a really easy transition into college but a lot of my friends didn’t and I didn’t want anyone in my group to feel like that. I just wanted my group to feel like they belong and see how great this place is.”

Ahlquist brought her group to the Night Owl Café for sizzlers during Orientation.

She also mentioned fun facts, for example, according to Ahlquist, there is a movie theatre at the top of Parker Hall. Beaulieu commented on the behavior of the first years.

“It was incredible,” he said. “They were so enthusiastic. We had the highest attendance rates that we’ve ever had. It was an amazing year, it stood out to us and speaks to us about how this program has evolved and get people ready to go and not be bored of orientation. The O-leaders, our coordinators, and the academic career and advising, brought that whole spectrum together and created such a great program and that’s what created the attendance to go up.”

“It’s a really big leadership opportunity,” Beaulieu said about the program and why he wanted to become a part of orientation.

“I wanted to capitalize on my opportunities and my emotional goals that I’ve had.” This was Beaulieu’s second year as an orientation leader. Young, Ahlquist, and Beaulieu each mentioned that they still talk with the members of their group after orientation.

“I told my group at our last meeting-even though I’m not going to have this red shirt on, I’m here, and I’m a resource. I’m your friend,” Beaulieu said.

“The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men, the conviction and the will to carry on.” Could popular writer and reporter Walter Lippmann have been referencing the 2013 Keene State College Orientation staff?



Kenzie Travers can be contacted at mtravers@keene-equinox.com

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