I am a firm believer in sleep and its wondrous healing powers. However, after being an orientation leader this past summer, I believe that sacrificing sleep in order to brag and talk about Marist all day to incoming freshmen is a fair trade off. Getting up and starting each day at 6 am was hard at first, especially since I had the same nerves as the incoming freshmen did the first day of orientation this year. As a new member to the team, I did not want to misinform or skew the image of what it is truly like to be a Red Fox. I was tired and anxious. What if the students in my group do not like me or trust what information I am giving to them? What if they cannot even fake a pity laugh at my corny jokes? What if my partner thinks I am doing a terrible job based on the advice I give? Did I make the right choice becoming an orientation leader? As these thoughts raced through my mind—all around 7 am—I had to smile and nod and talk to students as if nothing was wrong, and I was not second guessing every decision I have ever made up to this point.
The day proceeded as we’d been instructed it would: Robin Torres gave her warm welcoming speech to the students and parents. The orientation leaders performed their opening skits, and soon, the students were waving goodbye to their parents and tagging along with us orientation leaders. Shortly after my session one partner and I finished ice breakers that first day, we decided to let the students ask us any questions they had for us or address any rumors they had heard. As each student slowly warmed up to us and shared their nervous thoughts, it dawned on me how similar we all really were. The brave masks the students wore in front of their parents to appear “calm, cool and collected” was waning off and the earnest sides of the students shone through. Just like I had been doing all day, these students had to pretend like they knew what they were doing and what to expect. They were stepping out of their own comfort zones and taking a leap into the unknown: being a college student. That was what I was doing: taking that leap into being an orientation leader. I had to trust myself enough to know what I was doing was okay and I was doing a good job. That I was there actually helping students, calming them down and making them feel a little less alone in a campus of 4,000+ students.
After having this realization, the remainder of the orientation flew by. It took some time adjusting to my new role and position, but once I was comfortable in my authority and the sound advice I was giving, it became the most enjoyable job I have ever had (and I work at an ice cream parlor back home, so I am constantly surrounded by good things). Each day, students in my group would give my partner and I shout-outs to the Marist First Year Programs affirming our job well done. One even went so far as calling us “Marist lifesavers.”
I got to spend each day making students feel more at home on the campus that welcomed me with open arms two years prior. It was the most rewarding job, and I hope each day some of the love I have for Marist transferred to them during our time together, and that it is reflected in the positive decisions they make while on campus. While I am excited to be going to London for the upcoming semester, I am upset it’s one less semester I’ll be at Marist. I am very excited to return in January and see all my “orientation babies” see how their transition is going!