The student news site of Moravian University

The Comenian

The student news site of Moravian University

The Comenian

The student news site of Moravian University

The Comenian

What’s It Like Being An Orientation Leader?


Do you remember your freshman year at Moravian? If you do, chances are you also remember the weekend before you began classes: new student orientation. New student orientation is a chance for incoming freshman and transfer students to become acquainted with the university and its services before beginning their first semester.

Students are broken up into groups and assigned an orientation leader (OL). From there, the OL guides the new students to different sessions around campus, where the students become familiar with a wide variety of organizations and administration, such as the counseling center, Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and more! The OLs grow through training and are constantly working hard to make the first few days at Moravian the best they can be. Having served as OLs this past year, we wanted to share our experiences with you to give you insight into what it’s like to be an orientation leader.

You can’t just waltz in and become an OL right away. In the spring semester, students receive an email inviting them to apply. After filling out the application and participating in an interview, you’ll either be offered an OL position or won’t.

The two staff members who run orientation, Liz Yates and Meghan Santamaria, are wonderful individuals. They take time to carefully select orientation leaders based on the application and interview process. I wouldn’t worry too much if interviews make you nervous. When I applied in 2022, Liz Yates sent me the questions she planned on asking me during the interview, which gave me time to prepare. Besides, Liz and Meghan are very compassionate individuals. Even if you think the interview went sideways, they can pretty easily tell who will and won’t be a good fit for the position. And even if you don’t get the position, there’s no rule that says you can’t apply the following year!

OLs get to move in early, usually three days before orientation begins. Two days before, OLs will begin training. This training takes most of the day, and you’ll constantly be moving from one session to the next. OLs will be broken into groups and assigned an orientation coordinator (OC) before the spring semester ends. These groups stick together throughout training and are used to assign jobs during orientation. OCs are past orientation leaders who applied and were selected to help Liz and Meghan run orientation behind the scenes.

During the two-day training, you’ll go to different sessions, learning the orientation schedule, how to be emotionally intelligent, and other things to help you become a better leader. You even get time to create a sign for your group, door decorations for your residents, and postcards for your commuters! This training may seem long and tedious, but it’s quite the opposite. Sessions rotate quickly, and most of the info being discussed isn’t something that just applies to orientation. Liz and Meghan are wonderful at preparing you to be a leader even outside orientation. And besides, a lot of the sessions are pretty fun anyway; nothing really feels like a lecture!

After two days of training, be ready to wake up early because the freshmen begin moving in. There’s a quick (and free!) breakfast in the Star, you take a picture, and it’s off to your assigned move-in location!

I won’t lie to you; move-in can get pretty rough. You and your fellow OLs, along with some other help, continue to go up and down stairs carrying items. And because a lot of these students and parents are new to the college experience, there tend to be A LOT of things. I’ll keep it real with you: washing machines are going to be your best friends this week. Your OL shirts will get sweaty, and you’ll probably have to wash multiple times. While move-in is hot and exhausting, you do get a break before you need to report to Makuvek Field for orientation kickoff!

After some last-minute things to go over, you get to finally meet your group! They’ll slowly make their way to you, where you’ll then introduce yourself and play some ice-breakers. This is probably my favorite part about orientation. I think that meeting your group for the first time and being one of their first contacts at Moravian is fantastic. It’s terrifying when we have to move forward into the unknown, and having the opportunity to help and guide those who may be struggling is something that is truly selfless and genuine.

Then it’s dinner time! After eating dinner with some staff members in Johnston Hall, you get to participate in Playfair. Playfair is a great opportunity to meet students from outside your group, and the host is always pretty funny. After that, you get a short break; then it’s back to the grind as you may be assigned to serve ice cream in the dorm circle. This precedes a show, which then ends the first day of orientation. But there’s still a lot more to do…

On Saturday, you wake up bright and early once again and meet with your group for breakfast in the Star. After you have some yummy breakfast food, you will lead your group in rotating sessions across campus. This includes Hound Hunt (a tour of campus), a presentation, and a class survey!

Once you have completed all three sessions, all of the OLs and orientation groups will meet at the 1742 plaza for the Moravian Mile Walk to south campus. Dining graciously provides lunch for everyone while we relax for a tiny break. DEI then hosts a talkback on the north campus called “The Identity Investigation.” At this point, your group is slipping through your grasp because they desperately want a break. Luckily, you get a break until another presentation that begins later in the day.

Unless your group is some type of subspecies of humans, most of them will most likely not come to this presentation in the afternoon. However, the next event is everyone’s favorite event for orientation, HoundFest! This event is sponsored by MAC and has some crazy cool activities, such as a photo booth or designing your own license plate! The fun continues later with a Hypnotist and Midnight Oasis in the Star, which is midnight breakfast food with the freshmen. If you have made it this far, I can tell you that you are most definitely exhausted and want to sleep for the rest of your life. But you can’t do that because you have brunch the next morning with your orientation group!

After a quick brunch, the OLs go to Lovefeast. If your group was elected to serve the cake and frappuccinos, you show up and give out the food to the freshmen. After Lovefeast ends, you meet with your group again to do more rotating sessions. These sessions are probably the most important part of the weekend. During this three-hour block of switching between locations, you sit through a presentation, another presentation, and- you guessed it- another presentation. However, there is one last thing you do during this session that makes it so important. The freshman class will have the chance to write a letter to their future selves. You lead them through questions that can prompt ideas about what they want to be placed in the vault for the next four years. They also get to sign the class banner, which is later used during the crossing ceremony.

You have successfully brought these previous high school students into the world of college life. Watching your little freshmen cross the street and give President Grigsby a crisp “Hound ‘em” gives you a sense of pride, like you actually accomplished something in your life. You cheer them on as they grab their Class of 2027 t-shirts and walk toward the field for their class picture. Once they are situated for the picture, you are free to hand in the letters to Liz and Meghan and be on your way to finish your weekend!

Being an OL is one of the most important jobs you can have on campus. If you put in effort and make orientation worthwhile for the freshmen, they will remember you even after they graduate. Although Freshmen Orientation is long, hot, and sleep-inducing, it is actually a great learning experience. We had the best time, and hopefully, next year will be even better. Next up, Class of 2028!

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