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Orientation Leader Reflection
“O-LLLLL, OL, OL, OL!” was the cheer that greeted me when I first pulled into Quinnipiac University, a skeptical freshman. As I followed the driveway that snaked around the back of my future dorm, I spotted the enthusiastic swarm of seemingly insane individuals in fluorescent t-shirts cheering and screaming at my arrival, and wondered just what exactly I was getting myself into.
Just short of a year later, I suddenly found myself in a hot pink t-shirt, bombarding oncoming cars and doing progressive claps in the same fashion as those crazy students I was so wary of the year before. But somewhere in the middle of this apparent chaos, I had one of the best experiences of my entire life.
Those students were Orientation Leaders, more affectionately known as “OLs,” and that experience was Freshman Orientation at Quinnipiac University.
Going into my own Freshman Orientation, I had no idea what to expect apart from a few tidbits about tedious placement tests, monotonous lectures, and the overall boredom my friends had experienced at their own college orientations. Needless to say, my expectations were not all that high. However, once I got there and met the OLs that would be my group leaders, my fears subsided. The weekend sailed by with icebreakers, skit night, a mixer, late-night bingo, pizza parties, and many new “acquaintances,” along with a personal desire to become an Orientation Leader the following year.
My freshman year flew by, far too fast, and before I knew it application time rolled around. I sent my resume, went to group “tryouts,” and crossed my fingers. Close to 200 people vied for a coveted fifty to sixty spots and all I knew was that I wanted one of those spots more than anything.
My much anticipated letter arrived a few weeks later, when, to my delight and relief, I found out that I was accepted. I eventually came to discover that Orientation is even more fun for the OLs then it is for the freshmen.
Despite the fact that there were over 100 of us, we all bonded over training and throughout the three weekends. Everyone seemed to open themselves up and let their enthusiasm loose, making it easy to meet new people.
At Orientation, I was surrounded by people who shared my interests and energy, allowing me to get closer to people that I already knew, and to meet some of my best friends at Quinnipiac.
Since my primary motivation for becoming an OL was to share the same amazing experience that I had at my own Orientation, I nervously hoped that the kids in my group liked me and were getting as much out of the weekend as I did. My fears rested specifically on a single boy in each of the three weekends. Each of the three boys were “TC” as we like to call it, or “Too Cool for School,” and expressed an active desire to go home after the first twenty minutes of activities.
Devastated, I urged them to stay and stick out the rest of the weekend, promising them that it would be worth their while. They did, and by the end of the weekends, the boys were begging me to get them the “hook-up” so that they, too, could become OLs next year.
One of the boys later told me that looking at a picture keychain he had received during his weekend calmed his nerves at a musical performance when it reminded him of how much fun he had at Orientation. He said it was a great weekend and he couldn’t wait to start school in the fall.
My partner and I received several similar emails and feedback from the kids in our groups. Hearing them made me feel that I accomplished exactly what I came for. It made all the time, training, and volunteering completely worthwhile.
Being an Orientation Leader was not only fun but incredibly fulfilling. It integrated all the leadership skills I accumulated thus far, and left me with new skills that I know will be imperative when looking for jobs and simply in dealing with everyday situations. But the best thing I came out of Orientation with was 100 new friendships and the satisfaction of having made an impact on someone else’s life. There is a quote I like that says “Leave every place a little better than you found it.” On multiple levels, I feel that freshman Orientation at Quinnipiac University allowed me to do just that.