In my line of work, there are some buzzwords that I can’t help but overuse: Community, transition, resources, development, etc. etc. But here at Marist, that’s where my concerns lie – I’m a Coordinator in the Office of First Year Programs, and my job is to ensure that our first-year students experience a smooth transition to our campus community by encouraging them to take advantage of resources available to assist in their development as college students. Simply put: we’re here to help.
One of our biggest ways of helping is our annual Welcome Week. An extension of our June Orientation program, Welcome Week begins the moment first-year students set foot on campus in the fall. Soon after you’ve said goodbye to your parents, your Marist journey begins with a gathering of all of your classmates and a welcome from our President, Dr. Dennis Murray. From there, we run seven days of events aimed at getting our students familiar with campus, with the resources available and with the classmates they’ll be spending the next four years with.
Several campus offices come to meet students and discuss the opportunities they provide – International Programs will discuss our abroad opportunities, the Director of Student Conduct gives an overview of judicial policies, College Activities shares news of upcoming Broadway trips, Career Services talks about internships and resume critiquing opportunities – but Welcome Week is about more than just presentations. It’s about fun.
That fun includes the wildly popular Pizza and Wings tasting event. Local pizzerias bring samplings of their best pies and wings for first year students to try, free of cost. Our Student Programming Council also brings entertainment right to the students – everything from comedians to musical acts to popular films – you name it, SPC sponsors it.
Aside from the free food and entertainment, first-year students also get a healthy dose of competition by way of our annual Red Fox Rumble. At this “Meet and Compete,” students wear colored T-Shirts representing their Residence Halls (shirts provided by the Office of First Year Programs!) and compete in a variety of relay-style field games. The prize: Glory and bragging rights, of course.
Once the week concludes, students who have attended all of our events (we keep track by way of stamps on a Passport, which also serves as a guide for the week) are entered into a drawing. This year we gave away more than 30 prizes, including a variety of Marist gear and a free semester’s worth of textbooks.
As a Marist alumnae and now employee, I’ve been through five Welcome Weeks, and can’t imagine a better way to make a first-year student feel a part of our Marist Community – it really helps make Marist feel like more than a place to take class and earn a degree. It makes it feel like home.
Kait Smith, ’10
First Year Programs & Leadership Development