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Eastern welcomes Class of 2028 during summer orientation program

Published on June 26, 2024

Eastern welcomes Class of 2028 during summer orientation program

SOCs lead the way for incoming students

Eastern Connecticut State University welcomed its newest Warriors to campus this June during the annual Student Orientation Advising and Registration (SOAR) program.  Through the guidance of student orientation counselors (SOCs), hundreds of incoming students from the Class of 2028 acquainted themselves with Eastern’s campus and pondered their collegiate aspirations during four separate two-day orientation sessions. 

Senior communication major Nikki Flynn served alongside junior psychology major Sadie Blackwell as the head SOCs. Flynn explained the significance of their roles in creating a welcoming environment for the incoming students and the SOCs. 

“As head SOCs, Sadie and I work with the Office of Student Activities to run the SOAR program,” said Flynn. “This includes developing sessions for first-year students, working with the Campus Activity Board to plan events, and creating an (orientation) program that is beneficial and enjoyable for incoming students.”soar vertical 1

Casey Kensey, director of new student and family programs, and Vice President for Student Affairs Michelle Delaney welcomed the incoming first-year students and their families, kicking off SOAR and the students’ college careers. 

“SOAR would not be successful without our student orientation counselors,” said Kensey. “College is a chance to reinvent yourself and step out of your comfort zone, and our counselors are here to help you do just that.” 

Addressing parents, Delaney said: “We look forward to getting to know the young people you've raised and help provide a rich array of opportunities for them to learn, grow and discover how they want to make a difference in this world.” 

New Warriors bonded with their assigned SOCs and peers through small group activities. Junior Taylor Thompson explained that an orientation counselor’s role requires much flexibility and improvisation upon meeting each individual student. 

“While training prepares us well, you never know the type of students that will be in your group," said Thompson. "Adapting on the spot to each student's personality type and social comfort level has helped us develop crucial work and life skills, while also allowing us to further our connection to Eastern and its student body.” 

According to sophomores Kaiden Munroe and Breonne Lewis, SOCs also had the opportunity to bond with each other as they all worked together for a common goal.

“I've had the privilege of meeting incredible people among the students and the other SOCs I've had the honor of working alongside,” said Lewis. “The sense of community we've built is unmatched, and I hope to have the opportunity to experience this again next year.” 

“Working at SOAR has been one of the best experiences of my life,” added Munroe. “This is truly a family and getting to know all the students has been a blessing and a gift!” 

SOAR was filled with seminars and programs to prepare students for adapting to college life, including an uplifting talk by motivational speaker Michael Miller, and touring the nooks and crannies of Eastern’s campus grounds. 

Day two of SOAR began in the Fine Arts Instructional Center for the major fair, where new students explored prospective majors and minors.  

“I came to this school without knowing anything about it, it was a last-minute choice,” said first-year student Brooke, who plans to major in early childhood education.  

“I think the campus is beautiful,” added Sydney, an early childhood education and business double major who hopes to own her own daycare. “I woke up and saw the sun rising and was amazed. I also like how it’s a smaller campus.” 

soar vertical 2Many said that their first night on campus following their activities with SOCs helped them to settle into the Eastern experience, make new friends and feel more prepared for the upcoming school year. 

“I’ve loved SOAR so far. The campus is awesome, I had a great time with the guys in my group and it was overall a great experience,” said an incoming student named Eric, who plans to major in finance. “The things we did during the day were kind of like model classes during the school year.” 

Dean of Students Kemesha Wilmot ‘05 concluded SOAR by inviting the new students to participate in Eastern’s make-a-wish tradition. The tradition, which started with the class of 1999, marks the start of a new chapter in the students’ lives by tossing a penny into the fountain on the first day of their classes and then commemorating that chapter by doing so again on graduation day. 

“When I was a student here at Eastern, my wish was to make lifelong friends,” said Wilmot. “I am proud to say that even today, my circle is from all the people I’m connected with at Eastern. As I lead you to the fountain, I will also grab a penny and make a wish for you all.” 

Students’ wishes varied from wanting to “do something one’s never done before,” to “making lifelong friends,” to “impacting the world.” 

According to Blackwell, being a head SOC gave her a new perspective on the orientation process on top of the skills she had gained from her previous work with new students and administrators. 

“Before coming to Eastern, I would never have imagined that I’d be spending the summer leading an orientation program, but now that I am here I can’t imagine anything better,” said Blackwell. “Stepping into the role of head SOC was a huge leap but one that I am so grateful for. Being involved in this program has taught me communication skills, balance and how to be the type of leader I want to be — while also giving me passion for helping others.”

Written by Elisabeth Craig