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Freshmen Get Involved & Settle In

Freshmen quickly feel at home on campus.

Photo by Patrick Bradley

From the Start

Fully transitioning to college can be a slow process. Whether it’s finding that right campus organization or making a few close friends, things don’t often happen all at once; building a new life away from home takes time.

On the other hand, some students feel at home right away, knowing immediately that they’ve landed in the right place. Freshman Lauren Reiser got this sensation during her first tour of AU, well before she was even a student.

“I came here and fell in love with it,” she says. “The focus on internships, study abroad, community service, and the beautiful campus – it really clicked when I came[to AU]. That’s when I made the decision.”

Fellow freshman Trevor Langan echoes Reiser’s campus tour impressions.

“All the visits I had were entirely positive experiences,” he says. “I didn’t have any negative feelings. That made the decision.”

Head First

Once moved into the residence halls, both Reiser and Langan dove into their new lives at AU by attending events like the Freshman Service Experience (FSE) and joining a host of student organizations.

Reiser joined the Community Service Coalition, Ecosense, and the AU Democrats Leadership Committee, while Langan – a student in the University Honors program – involved himself in everything from being a lector at Catholic campus services and member of the Roosevelt Institute to landing his own show on WVAU, the campus radio station.

Working with FSE at Centronia, a bilingual afterschool program in DC, Reiser appreciated AU’s focus on community engagement from her first week here.

“It’s really showing our university values and how we put a great emphasis on giving back to the community,” she tells. “It’s great that the university offers an easy way for freshmen to get involved.”

A cornerstone of AU’s mission, many students come to campus looking to pursue a passion for community service. If it’s not service, the student body carries fervor for any number of issues pursued in and out of the classroom, from political to social and spiritual causes.

“Everyone has things they feel strongly about. They have something they want to change,” Reiser explains. “I’m glad I’m in a community where there are other people who are really driven, focused, and politically active.”

Leading in Diversity

Langan and Reiser admit they found AU because of its reputation for Political Science – both students’ current majors. Their love for politics brought them to AU’s School of Public Affairs and its competitive Leadership Program, which features guest speakers, mentoring, and learning both in and out of the classroom. The benefits, however, are more than academic.

“It’s not only the classroom and what we’re learning, it’s the community it’s breeding as well,” Langan explains.

Reiser, a Maryland native, has noticed the community both in the program and in the campus body. It’s a sense of community formed around diversity and a swelling international student population.

“Diversity was a major factor of where I wanted to go [to college],” she says. “It’s great hearing different perspectives, hearing from people who have lived in different countries. It really adds to your university experience.”

Adding to their university experience is exactly what Langan and Reiser have done, fully pursuing their programs, student organizations, and classes. Both freshmen agree when asked about their decisions to attend AU, but Reiser answers with words and a smile.

Only weeks into her first semester, Reiser beams, saying, “I definitely made the right choice coming to AU. I’m really happy with my experience so far.”