And Orientation’s Starting Lineup is…
This year’s orientation coordinators laugh and answer questions in unison. They’re more than a team of student coworkers; it turns out they’re friends.
Juniors Jackie Breuer, Laura Bruns, Poulami Banerji, and senior Meaghan Wilson make up the four students that help organize AU’s orientation experience through New Student Programs. Each takes charge of critical areas ranging from logistics and programming to publications and communications.
Having all met last year as front-line orientation leaders, Banerji – an international studies major – sees the group as a tight-knit community trying to welcome AU’s newest cohort to campus.
“We just have a lot of fun,” she says. “It’s a good atmosphere because we’ve worked with each other and are comfortable. We’ve seen each other at our most vulnerable and tired. It’s a really supportive and comfortable atmosphere in the office.”
In their new positions, the four will oversee and support a group of 15 student orientation leaders – the friendly faces that shepherd some 200 students during each of the summer’s two-day Eagle Summit sessions.
School of International Service student Breuer points to last year as the genesis for her interest in leading things from behind the scenes today.
“I really loved the programming last summer. Seeing what the orientation coordinators did, I felt like I could give a lot to the position,” she says. “I definitely felt like I could have a positive impact on the program.”
Similarly, Bruns took inspiration from seeing how supportive the coordinators were last year.
“I’d like to take on that role as well and just be there as a support system and learn from my coworkers. They’re so much fun to work with. It really makes the job easy,” she says.
It’s the first time in New Student Programs history that all of the coordinators were once also orientation leaders. As Banerji explains, this fact gives them an edge in creating the most efficient orientation experience possible – but it’s also a personal point to be grateful for.
“Understanding that whole process gives us the opportunity to appreciate this role, being in the office and helping everything tie together. It’s like coming full circle,” she says.
Wilson, on the other hand, has been on track to lead orientation since her first moments on campus. In fact, those moments have shifted her career focus away from national security to higher education.
“I had a fantastic orientation experience when I first came to AU. So, being an OL and OC, I’ve really just been giving back and falling in love with orientation,” she explains. “I want to do orientation for the rest of my life.”
After attending the National Orientation Directors Association conference with the team this spring, Bruns also finds herself looking at orientation as a career. While Eagle Summit often has a lasting impact on incoming students, the effects obviously extend to its student leaders as well.
Breuer recalls a moment last year when Bruns encouraged an incoming student to get involved in a club sport – a student that now actively participates and finds community on the team. Breuer carries that memory with her in her work today.
“It’s so inspiring,” she says. “Those little moments can change a freshman’s first experiences at AU.”
It’s clear that each member of the team brings inspiration from orientation to orientation – a fact that makes them such a cohesive unit, friends. Still, AU’s mission is at the heart of what they do and what’s specific to a welcoming institution of wonks from all walks.
“We really stress diversity and understanding one another in a respectful way. The fact that we start that value from a very early entrance into the university,” she says. “That’s something very unique to AU because we are such a diverse and welcoming campus. That undertone lasts with you for the four years you’re here at AU.”