Now a senior, I look back at when I was entering Ole Miss as a freshman. My first true experience with the university was the orientation session I participated in during summer 2015. Before then, I only took a small tour with my high school. I came for the academic quality of the university and also because I had friends from high school who loved the university so much from having parents who were alumni or siblings who were attending at the time.
Now I can look back and say that experience prepared me for my future as an Ole Miss Rebel, introducing me to the university, making my transition from high school to college easy, and meeting people who are still my friends. So I can completely understand the importance of the orientation sessions in affecting the lives of new Ole Miss students.
“They (orientation sessions) help students transition successfully to the university,” said Martin Fisher, associate director of admissions. “Our hope is to equip students with all the information, the relationships and tools so that when they start classes at Ole Miss, they’re as successful as they can possibly be. We really want them to feel a part of the campus community and to feel home here. A big part of orientation is creating a sense of belonging.”
I was excited for the orientation when I came, but that’s not the case for all freshmen. Some expect a dull experience but end up changing their outlook.
“I actually thought it was going to be boring,” said freshman Nautica Washington from Southaven. “I didn’t want to come. But I actually like it. I love it.”
The University of Mississippi introduces the orientation leaders in a very lively, energetic dance, which took place during my orientation as well. The atmosphere of the orientation can be so welcoming whether it be through the dance of the orientation leaders, the speeches made during the welcome session or just by the many interactions among new and returning Ole Miss students.
At the end of the first day of orientation, the students even have the opportunity to get to build upon those interactions and develop more friendships at the “Hotty Toddy Hangout,” where they can play games such as volleyball or cornhole and enjoy treats such as snow cones or Insomnia Cookies.
“I like how sweet and open everyone is and just very friendly,” said freshman Christian Carew, from Long Beach, Mississippi.
Openness and friendship are what the orientation leaders hope their groups get out of the experience. Up to this day, when I see my orientation leader, we speak and ask “how’s it been going?” even if it’s just for a couple minutes. But the friendliness goes a long way.
“When they just want to get coffee or anything, I’m always there to talk to them and hang out because we are friends,” said senior orientation leader MaryScott Polk. “It’s not just a job for us. We want to make relationships in the connections that we have with all the freshmen.”
Kendall Patterson is a senior journalism major and an intern in University Communications.