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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

New Wildcats roam UA campus

Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat 
Jennifer Lurie, an incoming political science freshman from California, receives an Otter Pop from the members of Chi Alpha. Jennifer was part of Mondays new freshman welcome event on University Boulevard.
Gordon Bates
Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat Jennifer Lurie, an incoming political science freshman from California, receives an Otter Pop from the members of Chi Alpha. Jennifer was part of Monday’s new freshman welcome event on University Boulevard.

With around 7,300 students participating in summer orientation, there will be a lot of new faces on campus this fall. Over the summer, future students will be introduced to the college environment and be given a chance to take part in coursework, a fact that has many incoming freshmen excited about their collegiate careers.

Mallory Loftus, an incoming freshman, said she was most excited about “”all the new people and getting out of my little Scottsdale bubble.””

For the most part, this year’s orientation remains unchanged.

“”Orientation as a process is going to start to change next summer more towards a one-day process for students,”” said Keith Humphrey, an assistant vice president in Student Affairs.

“”As a result, we have not made lots of big changes this summer.””

There has been one change to orientation this year; now, for every first day of orientation, a dinner will be provided for all students in Main Gate Square. Local restaurants provide the food and clubs have booths set up so students can explore and mingle.

“”It’s a really nice way to get students connected to an important part of our community,”” Humphrey said.

According to Humphrey, orientation is running very smoothly, and both parents and students are enjoying the events.

“”I think it’s great because it gives parents a chance to know a little bit more about what they will be doing,”” said parent Leticia Beltran.

In addition to going through orientation, many incoming freshmen have already begun taking UA classes through the New Start Summer Program.

The program seeks to prepare incoming freshmen for life as a Wildcat. New Start also helps students prepare for both the challenges and opportunities they will face come fall.

“”I think freshmen face a lot of challenges, which is why New Start is so important.

Freshmen are experiencing their independence for the first time and that can be scary or just overwhelming,”” said Mary Kuper, New Start Summer Program Coordinator. “”Plus, the University of Arizona, even as we try to be welcoming and supportive, is still a huge campus. Students often feel lost or don’t know where to go to find the support they need. Coupled with the increased rigor and expectations of the college environment, the first year can be really tough.””

New Start allows incoming freshmen to take six to seven units of coursework to fulfill math, English or INDV requirements. While students are taking the classes, they attend workshops taught by peer advisers. Many of the students also choose to live in the residence halls, where residence assistants put together social and educational events on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“”The New Start Summer Program really aims to bring all of the UA’s amazing resources to students,”” Kuper said.

According to Kuper, students who participate in New Start have better GPAs and retention rates than students who could have participated but did not.

Jessica Mejia, a Mexican American studies senior, is a student coordinator for New Start.

Mejia first became involved as a student in the program. The next year, she decided to come back as a peer adviser and is now involved as a student coordinator.

“”New Start helped me become a better college student and helped me make a connection on campus and find people that will help and support me,”” Mejia said. “”That is what New Start is all about. We help students gain a heads up for the fall. The friends that you make in New Start are forever and the people that you meet are great resources.””

Kuper said UA students like Mejia who get involved also see benefits.

“”Some of our colleagues in the Center for the Student of Higher Education and former staff of New Start have been looking into this,”” Kuper said. “”What they are finding is that our peer support staff do benefit greatly from their time on staff in New Start.””

UA students who work with New Start are provided with two weeks of full-time training to prepare for the six-week program.

“”They also are gaining paraprofessional skills as program facilitators, leaders and in some cases, learn new counseling skills that will help them regardless of the career path they choose,”” Kuper said.

It is not uncommon for student staff members like Mejia to continue to work with New Start throughout their college careers.

“”Our student staff often return for multiple years because they love the friendships and supportive environment they’ve found by being part of our program,”” Kuper said.

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