The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

Orientation Leaders All Smiles

First days at a new school can always seem a little intimidating. The school seems big, you don’t know anyone and don’t want to stand out as the stereotypical new student staring at the map of the school with those wide eyes.

St. John’s orientation leaders, the ones wearing the red shirts and the big smiles, are there to help when you are feeling lost and in the dark.

Orientation leaders go through a long process of interviews and leadership development training during the school year in order to be ready to welcome the new students.

Marissa Ruotolo, a junior at St. John’s has been an orientation leader for the past two summers. She is the one who is always wearing her sunglasses without a doubt (even during wintertime). During her first summer she worked with the parent orientation and this summer she worked with the student orientation.

According to Ruotolo, the parent orientation lasts a full day where they come in the morning and they are done by around 4:30 p.m.

“I was so nervous to be a parent OL my first summer. Parents are so engaging. They see us and they want their children to be just like us. They see orientation leaders and they say that they want their child to be an orientation leader and get involved with other things on campus. We work with the parent staff, eight orientation leaders this year; last year we had 10 leaders under the guidance of an orientation coordinator. Basically we take the parents around, answer questions and have conversations with them,” Ruotolo said.

The student orientation is an overnight experience where the students get the chance to meet all the different departments such as public safety, student wellness and campus ministry.  This is also a time when orientation leaders take students on a tour of the campus and to get their storm card. Ruotolo likes to tell her students to smile nice because you are with this picture for the next four years.

“As for parents, they always just want to know the logistical things like when was the university founded or who is this dean, whereas the students just want to know when is lunch. But parents just want to know about yourself, your favorite part of the university, why you chose your major and the school. Especially, for the parents who have graduated from St. John’s, they want to know what has changed from back in the day,” Ruotolo shared.

Parents usually have different concerns than students. Most students are simply excited for the brand new college experience and to finally get a sense of independence. Meanwhile, parents are concerned about the safety of their child and how they can make most of the resources offered by the school.

Shane Fallon, a fellow junior, a two-time orientation leader and aspiring teacher, shares his personal experience and how these two summers have completely changed his life.

“Personally, ever since becoming an orientation leader I would say that orientation has become my life. I have changed so much from before I was an orientation leader to what I am [now]. As a freshman, I was not really involved with anything on campus. I was friends with a few people I knew from my high school but now with this experience as an orientation leader, I have met so many people that have become some of my best friends,” Fallon shared.

For Shane, being an orientation leader imparts personal growth and becoming better prepared for life after college. Since orientation leaders are usually the first contact to new students, he likes to answer questions, help new students get oriented with the school and have an easy transition to the school year.

“Being an orientation leader broke me out of my shell.  I used to be shy and kept to myself all the time but now I am a much more confident person who isn’t afraid to speak up and be a leader,” Fallon said.

Being an orientation leader is a great way to get more involved on campus and be a helpful hand to new students.

“It is a great networking experience within the university because people see OL’s in different departments and they are like this is a great student, we want them to work for us,” Ruotolo said.

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