Everyone has his or her uncomfortable zones.
Put me on a stage? I’ll throw up.
Have me talk to over 300 people about my experience at Marist? I’ll sweat like Carl in the ice age episode of Jimmy Neutron.
Do icebreakers with students I do not know for about two and half hours, eight days in a row, to get them to know each other? Just thinking about it used to give me hives.
So what you may ask, made me EVER decide becoming an ORIENTATION LEADER would be good for me?
I was eating in the dining hall one day after Christmas break last year and I happened to stumble upon a little note card placed in the napkin holder asking for applications to become an Orientation Leader. I gave it some thought, and I figured, hey, why not just apply just to see what it was about. One application, one interview, and one acceptance letter later, here I am with almost another school year under my belt and eager anticipation for this summer’s Orientation Program with what I could easily regard as one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life.
After a week of training, my nerves were reduced to simple butterflies on my very first day of Orientation, ushering in the welcome of the class of 2016.
…But that doesn’t mean something along the lines of these thoughts did not rush through my head on the first day:
What if the new students thought I was awkward?
What if their parents threw rotten vegetables at me on stage?
What if they hate my jokes and left my group for another, cooler, o-leader?
I can honestly and genuinely say that luckily none of these happened. In fact, the exact opposite happened.
Orientation was the best commitment of my life. Some of the students I met that week brought me to emotional highs that I’ve yet to experience again. Their genuine passion for Marist was infectious, their excitement was endearing, and their unspoken nerves reminded me of exactly how I felt coming to school. Words cannot describe how it felt to be for some students, their first real friend here. To this day I keep in contact with a handful of my “O-babies” and even more than that, I am still greeted with a friendly smile and hello by those that recognize me. I recently did Transfer Orientation and was greeted with the same beauty I saw during the freshman orientations. Students came from all over (even internationally) asking all kinds of questions about Marist and what it really means to be a Red Fox. On Tuesday when classes officially began, I even ran into a few of them that I recognized and they too stopped and talked to me about how their day was going and how things were going well for them.
I cherish these little moments.
I am a proud member of the Marist College Orientation Team, a part of First Year Programs. We and First Year Programs are the people whose main goal is to acclimate students to the Marist community, and to immerse the students in all that is unique to Marist and what we have to offer. I feel like the most important person in the world while helping out during orientation because for me it was a day I always remembered, so I strive to make the transition for students as easy and flawless as mine was. That’s what First Year Programs is all about, making the transition to the greatest years of your life, a seamless one. Going off to college is hard. Leaving friends, family, loved ones and all that seems to make you who you are at home is not an easy thing. But what comes with going away to school, is inherently stepping out of your comfort zone. You change. You learn, and in turn, you become a better you. So far, you’ve let Marist College and First Year Programs help you. It’s your turn to help someone else experience that too.
Be someone’s inspiration. Be someone’s friend.
Take a chance and put yourself out there. The outcome just might surprise you.
After all, Life begins at the end of your comfort zone…
–Alex McCahill 15’