Monday, August 22, 2011

virginia tech freshmen orientation: living each day like "day one"

I have been MIA from blogging and social media in general for the duration of the summer because I have been involved with Virginia Tech's Freshmen Orientation through the office of New Student Programs. To give a little background on the program, the office selected 11 males and 13 females in the fall semester 2010 to become Orientation Leaders (OL's) for the summer 2011. In addition to this team of 24 OL's, there were 3 male and 3 female Orientation Assistants (OA's) who were returning to the program after serving as OL's the previous summer. The OA's helped mentor the group of OL's and worked more on the logistics of Orientation, rather than with the students.

From the second I walked into Commonwealth Ballroom for my own freshmen orientation in July 2008, I knew I wanted to be an Orientation Leader. Little did I know just how much it would change my life and inspire me to become a better person.

As a Leadership and Social Change minor, I loved learning about leadership theories, strengths, and group dynamics during orientation training in the spring semester 2011. I am a very passionate leader, as I have spent the majority of my college career in extracurricular activities based on leadership or team building. I really appreciated how much time and energy the Dean of Students Office at Virginia Tech invested in the developing our leadership skills as well as our character. I acquired many life lessons through my experience as an OL while also forming meaningful relationships with not only the freshmen I worked with, but also the Orientation Team and Staff. I hope that I am able to articulate just how much I learned this summer, though I know I could not put into words how grateful I am to have had this opportunity.

One important message that I will always treasure from Orientation is what I like to call the "Day One" mentality. Essentially, this mentality is based in a customer service aspect, meaning to treat each day of work at orientation as the first day since it was each student's and family's "day one." In the long hours, intense schedule, and energy-demanding days of orientation, it was easy to lose sight of the bigger picture and relax on our duties. We were working over 16 hour days and were constantly interacting with parents and students alike. It was crucial to give these families everything we could offer so as to make their orientation experience (and official welcome to Virginia Tech) the best it could be. Whenever someone was tired or zoning out or having a bad day, we'd simply remind each other: "Day One."

The "Day One" mentality of orientation will be a mantra I remember forever. I think of it as a positive spin on the phrase "live each day as though it is your last." "Day One" was just a motivating insight when the days were long or if my students didn't participate in activities as much as I would have liked. I think that "Day One" is a succinct reminder that we only have one chance: to impact someone's life, to make someone's day, to enjoy our family and friends, and to experience life. I now strive to treat each day as "Day One" and remember how lucky I am.

I am incredibly grateful to have been selected to be a part of something so much bigger than myself. I now have a better understanding that Virginia Tech's Orientation is more than school spirit and a welcome to campus-- it is a chance for students to connect to each other and to the university, as well as becoming a part of this wonderful community. Each day of the summer, I was lucky enough to be reminded of how much I love my school and the people attached to it.

This is just one of the many lessons I will take with me from my time as a 2011 Orientation Leader, and I plan on sharing more of these insights in later posts.

On another note, today is my last "first day of school," and you better believe I am treating it as "Day One"-- literally and figuratively.

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