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New Orientation Coordinators Take Ranks

New orientation coordinators look to make this year's Eagle Summit, Transfer Transitions, and Welcome Weeks programs something to remember.

Photo by Patrick Bradley

Inspiration in Orientation

When Jessy Murgel came to AU, she wasn’t sure college was for her. Then she attended Eagle Summit – AU’s unique summer orientation program for freshmen.

“When I did orientation, it totally changed my perspective on coming to college. It was a really good experience for me,” she tells. “So, I wanted to help out with orientation from a new perspective.”

Now, Murgel joins three other AU undergraduates as orientation coordinators for 2012. Under the direction of New Student Programs, Murgel and fellow sophomores Tori Vogel, Ellie Hawkins, and Kevin Anderson will form the cornerstone of what makes AU’s orientation successful enough to change an opinion on college.

Mike Metzger, assistant director of New Student Programs, praises the yearly-appointed student team for their part in shaping orientation.

“They make it work,” he says. “This is the group we turn to [in order] to make a lot of critical parts of our program work, and it’s around the areas of publications, programming, logistics, and communications/technology.”

New & Normal

The orientation coordinators, or OCs, sport a new title this year, moving away from the formerly-used New Student Program program coordinators. Even with the new title, Metzger assures the duties haven’t changed. Considering the whirlwind work days in the summer, it’s still one of the more demanding roles a student can sign up for at AU.

“I really try to empower them to take on large chunks of the program,” Metzger explains. “It’s much more of a paraprofessional role. There’s an elevated level of responsibility and also accountability because they need to come through for us in those critical areas.”

OC Tori Vogel – who looks to major in Political Science and Sociology – sees the work’s challenges as an opportunity to improve herself.

“Coming into it, I expected to have an impact on the incoming class and learn about American University,” she says, “but something I think is important to the position that I didn’t realize is the self-growth and transformation that you go through.”

College of Arts & Sciences’ Kevin Anderson has enjoyed the growth on both sides of orientation. Along with Murgel and Vogel, he served as an orientation leader last summer after being inspired by his own Eagle Summit experience. Anderson is even using his time as an OC to weigh a career in higher education; but this job isn’t about him, he explains.

“I feel like we can give two different types of people things,” he says. “One, orientation leaders…trying to give them the same experience that I had last summer, since it was so important for me, and freshmen…just making sure they feel comfortable and welcomed coming to AU.”

Working Theme

Metzger hopes to more fully engage incoming students through technology and social media this year. In fact, he has a theme on the idea to help motivate the OCs team.

“The theme for me this year is ‘plus-ing,’” he explains. “Whether in evaluations or off-handed remarks, we know our program is really strong. I think we have a few areas where we could use that polish, bring it to the next level, and ‘plus’ the experience.”

Out of twenty-eight applicants, Metzger – who himself started out as an orientation leader in college – quickly saw that these students could further the already successful program.

“I knew this was a group that was well organized, they knew our mission, and they know the cycle of how our business works,” he says. “We wouldn’t be able to accomplish the summer if it weren’t for them. That’s a really cool part of their job.”

Murgel looks at the work ahead, hoping to help improve Welcome Weeks and Transfer Transitions, which also make up orientation at AU. Eagle Summit, though, will always hold a special place in her heart. It’s program that has changed her life direction toward that of a student and leader.

“My friends go to school all over. None of them had any similar experience, and none of them see orientation the way I do,” she says.

Under the leadership of such a passionate and dedicated bunch, incoming students can rest assured that this year’s orientation will be nothing short of the inspired inspiring others at AU.


Follow New Student Programs on Twitter: @AU_NSP.

Visit the New Student Programs website by clicking here.