Most Pepperdine students can remember arriving on campus for orientation: being surrounded by cheering students in orange, receiving a welcome from the President of the university, gathering as a resident hall to meet the Residential Advisors and Spiritual Life Advisors and many other exciting activities. Undoubtedly, a new Wave’s first time on campus is filled with many new people and events.
New Student Orientation at many state universities is a mere two or three-day formality focused on class scheduling and logistics. However, at Pepperdine, it is a unique, week-long experience filled with activities focused on building a community.
The magic of NSO can be traced back to the efforts of Student Activities staff, including Director Brittany Skinner, Campus Programs Coordinator Danielle Minke and Associate Dean Doug Hurley.
“We build community by introducing new students and their families to the whole spectrum of what’s available at Pepperdine,” Hurley said. “There’s a connection point for everyone here.”
With dozens of events available over the course of the week, ranging from a pre-med interest meeting to a veteran welcome, Hurley makes the point: It seems as though there is something for everyone. Students also have the option to participate in events such as the hike to the cross, New Student Mugging, and a variety of others designed to help a new student navigate Pepperdine and meet their classmates.
Yet beyond the efforts of the Student Activities staff and the excitement of the new students themselves, another essential community-building link lies in the orientation leaders.
“The orientation leaders work tirelessly to practice hospitality by moving in way too much stuff, answer questions, walk people to unfamiliar locations, and set a welcome table for our newest community members,” Hurley said. “They create a free and open space where people who were once strangers are now our friends.”
The orientation leaders begin their training four days prior to NSO, and their schedules are nothing to balk at. Beginning at 8 a.m. and ending at 7 p.m., each day is full of bonding activities, lectures on events and updated facilities and prepping the campus for the arrival of around 900 new students.
Once orientation begins, their schedules only become busier. Beginning most days at 6 a.m. and ending at 8 p.m., orientation leaders are busy helping first-years and parents alike. Carlie Ott, who has served as an orientation leader for two years, recalls her first time on campus.
“My favorite phrase of NSO would have to be ‘I was just going there.’ It’s a cute tag line that we NSO orientation leaders say to make people feel more comfortable about asking for directions,” Ott said. “When an orientation leader would say they were ‘also going there,’ I felt comfortable asking for help with campus directions as well as questions about classes, books and everything else.”
Ultimately, there are many crucial aspects involved in creating the community that is Pepperdine. From the efforts of the Student Activities coordinators, to the Orientation Leaders, to the new students themselves, not an ounce of it is taken for granted. New Student Orientation is important for helping introduce students to Pepperdine and incorporating the values of community and love.
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