New Cardinals flock to orientation

New Cardinals are flocking to New Student Orientation, held this summer on campus at Lamar University.

Held on June 18, 24 and 30, more than 600 new students have attended NSO, according to New Student and Leadership Programs Director Brandie VanZanden. More than 1,300 are registered to attend, with the remaining dates to be held on July 9, 14, 15 and Aug. 5 and 11.

“Our turnout has been good,” VanZanden said. “We’ve gotten most of our students who registered to sign up and attend and bring extra guests with them, so that’s great to have new students and their families attend.”

New Student Orientation, or NSO, is required for all new incoming freshman; however, the program director said they work hard to make it both fun and engaging, as well as an important part of welcoming in the newest flock of Cardinals.

“Orientation for new students is a one-stop-shop for everything so they can take their student I.D. photo, talk to their advisor, (learn more about) financial aid — everything that they need to take care of happens at orientation before classes start,” she said. “It’s super important that they attend to make sure that they can check everything off of their list.” New Student Orientation

NSO features an array of activities, including breakout sessions for students and guests, fairs for resources and departments and the student organization involvement fair.

“New Student Orientation is our way of welcoming new Cardinals and their families on campus, so we want to make sure that everyone coming feels included. It’s a one-day session for our incoming freshmen to get everything that they need and get all of their questions answered, making sure that they talked to resources and departments, and they meet friends,” VanZanden said. “This is a great opportunity for them to come to campus, not only to meet our orientation leaders and develop those relationship with students that could be their mentors, but to meet their peers. We just want to make sure when they come to orientation, they leave with every answer to every question and that they have everything that they need to start the first day of classes.”

Not only is New Student Orientation geared toward freshmen, but it’s helpful for parents and families as well.

“So not only are we programming for new students, but we also have a whole separate schedule for our parents and families that attend with their students,” she said. “We go over what you are going to expect now that your student is leaving — how you work through this transition with your student being at home all the time to now being away and giving them the resources because it’s important that our students understand the resources that they have, but it’s even more important that families can help the students find those resources. So, if our families relate to that, then they can encourage their students to utilize the resources. They can meet other families and build those connections, but it is also providing them with the resources and help that they need in their transition, because it’s a transition for them as well.”

The program works hard to make sure that not only is it informative, but it’s engaging and fun — a great place to get into the Cardinal spirit, she added.

“There's a lot of Cardinal spirit and energy; our new students are excited,” VanZanden added. “They're excited to get here. They're excited to meet other new students. So, I think everyone is excited and there's definitely some Cardinals spirit happening.”

New Student Orientation Leaders feel the excitement in the air as well. The role of a New Student Orientation Leader is to help be a guiding hand for all new students and their families.

“Being an orientation leader here on campus is a really rewarding role,” said Angelie Bautista, a pre-nursing major and sophomore. “We get to help students with orientation, transitioning to campus life — whether it be in the residence halls or in their classes and I really like being in small groups so we can build that one-on-one connection."

Most New Student Orientation Leaders said their favorite part of NSO is small groups.

“I think at the beginning, they are all shy, but as soon as we play ice breakers and we get to spend that one-on-one time with each other, we get to build that connection," she said. "They go from zero to 100. They start to open up their shells and I think that’s a really cool thing to see.”

In addition to being the guiding hand for all new students and families, the leaders have been given a fresh perspective on the university they have called home, said Stefany Rico, senior and social work major.

“I have learned so much about Lamar University,” Rico said. “It really shows how diverse LU is and how everyone is different and unique in their own way.”

Bautista agreed, saying, “I came from Nederland, which was very close to home. So, there was always a stigma here on campus like, ‘There’s nothing here for me at Lamar. It’s too close to home. They don’t have the opportunities like they would in other big campuses in Texas,’ but I would have to say that’s completely false. Lamar University has so much to offer here. I learned so much about the faculty here and the students themselves. I think it’s a really special place for you to grow, where you’re not just treated as a number, you’re treated as a person.”

Upcoming dates for New Student Orientation include the following: July 9; July 14; July 15; Aug. 5; Aug. 11; and transfer orientation is on July 29.

For more information or to register, visit the Student Engagement website.