If you think back to your first interaction with another St. Lawrence student upon arrival to campus during the fall of your first year, chances are that person was an Orientation Leader (OL). Whether it was helping you carry up that new fridge three flights of stairs, or explaining what exactly “The Pub” was, immediately there was a friendly face helping you acclimate to all things St. Lawrence. The transition from high school to college is exciting, but it can also be filled with confusion and trepidation. In every First-Year Program (FYP) group, there are students who handle the process differently, and how an OL responds can make or break someone’s experience at St. Lawrence. We all remember those first conversations meeting everyone on your floor and building, but we often forget the significance of our OLs in initiating those friendships. The painfully awkward first run-through of “I’m Cool and You’re Cool, Too” on Creasy Commons; the quickly scrapped together Alma Mater remix for the First-Year Cup; your first time putting aside your pride and screaming “HEY ST. LAWRENCE!” at the top of your lungs. While, by themselves, these events are not anything too significant, first-years stepping out of comfort zones, finding themselves, and genuinely feeling excited about St. Lawrence is more often than not induced by an OL. These are just a few of the reasons why I decided to apply to be an OL the past two years, and with these past two years I have learned invaluable lessons while joining a truly tight-knit family of Orientation Leaders.
As an OL, you have the unique perspective of observing first-year students grow and mature as they immerse themselves into all facets of the St. Lawrence community. You can’t help but feel a sense of pride when seeing the same timid and hesitant students who showed up on Move-In Day, now joining student government, Greek life, theme houses, clubs, and sports teams. One of my first-years even auditioned and joined me in “The Singing Saints,” the same all-male a cappella group my OL told me about during my Orientation. Every year, I realize more and more how one brief name-drop of a student organization can drastically alter one’s time here at St. Lawrence.
St. Lawrence Orientation is an orientation unlike any other. The emphasis on our school values of community, friendship, teamwork, and leadership, are all encapsulated through Orientation and the First-Year Cup. St. Lawrence excels in developing student leaders through extracurricular activities, programs, and experiences outside of the classroom, and by introducing first-years right off the bat to these principles, they are being set up to become productive members of the Laurentian community. It is incredibly humbling to have such an integral role in shaping students’ perceptions of St. Lawrence and to be a witness to their growth and progression as Laurentians. Yet, this growth has not been limited to just the first-years. I, along with all my fellow OLs, have become stronger leaders and communicators by working in a team environment, while also recognizing the importance of an event much bigger than us. While some of the connections between Orientation Leaders and first-year students may depreciate over time, your OLs will always be the ones who introduced you to campus life at this tucked away North Country gem, with a friendly smile, and what may have appeared as an over-the-top obsession for everything St. Lawrence. And while everyone is in a different place on their journey through life, there is one thing I know every OL can say to their first-years: we are proud of you.