Behind the scenes at orientation: Loud, excited and ready to go

By Kyle Hobstetter on July 8, 2019

Towson University’s orientation leaders are ready to show the newest members of the TU community around campus

Sophomore Kameron Chung believes he’s a little different from his fellow students. The Catonsville, Maryland native considers himself a morning person. 

“Every morning I’m up and ready to go and my energy is already at 100,” Chung laughs.

Chung needs all of that energy this summer because he is one of 59 student orientation leaders that will help lead over 5,000 new Towson University students around campus this summer as part of New Student Orientation. 

Over the summer, the Office of New Student and Family Programs will host 26 different orientation sessions that will welcome incoming freshmen and transfer students. The one day mandatory program is a way for incoming students and their family members to get all the information they need to successfully transition into TU. 

Each morning a new batch of students and their families come to TU’s campus for orientation. There they meet TU’s orientation leaders who have to be at campus starting at 6:57 a.m. to help set up for the day. 

Usually it’s not uncommon to see orientation leaders dancing, giving a high five or just providing a friendly smile to incoming guests. For Katie Murray, director of New Student and Family Programs, the orientation leaders are what makes all the hours her staff puts in more enjoyable.

"The orientation leaders make my job so much fun,” Murray says, “We start in February with them, and so it’s wonderful to see their leadership, growth and development. And they are putting those skills into action every day we have orientation.

“(Orientation leaders) are loud, excited, ready to go and ready to help our incoming students.”

Orientation leader
Orientation leaders help guide students around campus, and answer questions about their experience at Towson University. 

That loud excitement can be seen when the orientation leaders are introduced. With the ballrooms filled with hundreds of new students and their families, the day starts off with the orientation leaders coming into the room singing the TU fight song. 

This is followed by the orientation leaders introducing themselves to the crowd. For Oz Asante, a junior mass communications major who is in his second year as an orientation leader, it’s his favorite part of the day because he gets to transfer his energy to the crowd. 

“I say ‘When I say O you say Z…that’s me,’” Asante laughs. “I had such a great time being an orientation leader last year, that I want to focus on helping other people do the same thing. I want to help everybody figure out their way of doing things and how they can have their best experience at this school.” 

The day features different programs, presentations and activities that will help them integrate into the Towson University community. The day features:

For the Office of New Student and Family Programs, the days is really making sure that students are prepared both socially and academically for the fall academic term.

“We want them to get a blend of academic and social integration to TU,” says Matt Hicks, coordinator of New Student and Family Programs. “We’re going to teach them our school’s traditions and get them ready for their classes in the fall and pretty much just make sure they feel comfortable being a part of our community.” 

Probably the most informative part of orientation is where students get to talk with their orientation leaders. Transfer students get to “pick the brains” of the current students through a special orientation leader panel. 

Freshman students are put into small groups that are led by orientation leaders. There they to talk with their orientation leader, as well as get to tour the campus with a current member of the TU community.

Getting to give that personal touch is why orientation leader Sara Altiere returned this summer. She graduated this past spring with a degree in psychology and will start her master’s program at TU later this fall. 

She admits that she had a fantastic experience at TU, so much that she not only wanted to come back for her degree, but also to help new students understand the community they are coming into. 

“Getting to help students in a more personal way…that’s my favorite part of orientation,” Altiere says. “Helping a transfer student get a class they need, or helping a freshmen student connect with an organization they are interested in, it’s that personal connection that is my favorite.”

New students pose with thier orientation leader outside the TU
One of the final steps of orientation is when students and their orientation leader pose near the TU outside the Center for the Arts building. 

The day ends at around 3 p.m. when students get to take a picture with their orientation leader in front of the landscape TU located on Osler Drive in front of the Center for the Arts building.

For many orientation leaders it’s a great send-off for the newest members of the Towson University community. It also reminds many of the orientation leaders why they signed up for the position. 

Emily Chandler, a junior business administration major from Woodbine, Maryland, vividly remembers her orientation. There was an orientation leader who excitedly welcomed and yelled “Welcome to Towson.” 

After the loud welcome, her parents told her she would be good the job. Now she considers her fellow orientation leaders her second family.  

"This job is genuinely so rewarding at the end of the day,” Chandler says. “If someone is thinking about being an orientation leader, just apply. It’s a wonderful office to be a apart of and they are supportive of us as humans, not just as workers.”

Students who are interested in serving as an orientation leader next summer, New Student and Family Programs start recruitment at the end of the fall semester. The application is typically due at the beginning of the spring.

New students and their families who are coming for an orientation session later this summer, can get a complete schedule, to-do list and more by downloading the TU Events app from your app store.

This story is one of several related to President Kim Schatzel’s priorities for Towson University: TIGER Way.