The OL Experience

Nihal Manjila, Staff Reporter

Entering college can be a daunting task. Incoming students have to leave their families and homes and join a new community in a new place. Discover Week plays a vital role in integrating new students into the Case Western Reserve University community before the academic year starts. This is due in great part to the efforts of the orientation leaders in charge of executing the programs planned by the First-Year Experience office. 

The process of becoming an orientation leader takes preparation that happens months before Discover Week begins. Applications must be completed, interviews held and a retreat at Beulah Beach attended. Orientation leaders must also move in a week before Discover Week to get trained. The training can last from nine in the morning to nine at night. 

Becoming an orientation leader is a significant time investment. The students who become orientation leaders must therefore be driven and inspired to pursue this program. 

What drove this year’s orientation leaders to join the program? 

“I met my lifelong friends in my orientation group,” said Omar Roman, a second-year student and orientation leader. He was impacted by the meaningful friendships that had formed between orientation leaders and wanted to facilitate that opportunity for new students. 

Alyssa Lobb, a second-year student and orientation leader, had similar sentiments. She expressed how she met her close friends during orientation week and wanted to give back to the program. 

“I wanted to meet the incoming class and help them through the transition to college like my orientation leaders did,” said Anna Giubileo, a second-year student and orientation leader. 

A commonality in the driving factor behind assuming the role is being inspired by their own orientation leaders and wanting to help new students have a positive experience as well. 

While Discover Week is for the new class of CWRU students, it can be just as meaningful for orientation leaders. 

“It brought people together through vulnerability and emotion,” said Roman, speaking about Dear World, his favorite Discover Week experience.

Giubileo expressed that her favorite part of Discover Week was getting to know people through shared activities such as CCEL Service Day. 

“I really liked the Boogie,” said Lobb. “We practiced for one and a half hours every day during training week.” She also spoke about how getting to know her fellow orientation leaders was a memorable part of the experience.

Being an orientation leader during Discover Week is not only a time for first years to gain insights into how the campus works and get to know other students, but also a time of growth for the orientation leaders as well.

Giubileo said that she gained a better understanding of how to communicate with shy and outgoing people, as well as an appreciation for the efforts of everyone who helped ensure that the week was successful. 

Lobb spoke about how she gained leadership experience and new friendships. 

“I’m more understanding of Case as an institution,” said Roman. He also added that he was happy to be helpful to a new class of students and felt more open. 

When asked to give advice to students considering becoming orientation leaders in the future, Lobb said that you don’t have to be extraverted to be an orientation leader. 

“Being adaptable and good at communication is important,” said Roman. 

Giubileo said that she was very happy with her experience and is already planning on applying again this coming year. 

Orientation leaders are an incredibly important part of Discover Week and crucial to helping the newest Spartans feel at home on campus. Students who feel that they want to give back or have a new experience should definitely consider applying to become orientation leaders.