New Student Programs Shifts to Year-Long Program
By Krista Aoki, Assistant Editor-in-Chief
As returning University of Hawai’i at Hilo students settled into their Hilo dwellings for the beginning of a new school year, new students celebrated their first steps as Vulcans on our campus.
Designed to create connections, set students up to be academically successful, and develop their Vulcan ‘ohana, Orientation took its participants on an adventure from Thursday, August 22nd until Sunday, August 25th.
Orientation included traditional events such as Convocation and the VCSA Lunch, but branched out, celebrating new traditions such as a group class picture, an array of workshops and panels, weekend excursions, RISO-hosted activities, and a Vulcan Carnival to commence the festivities. New students were also given an Orientation Leader (O.L.), along with a cohort of fellow new Vulcans.
Keylan Sato, an O.L., appreciated the “time to get to know (his) students better and interact with them on a social level.”
New student Landon Ballesteros also thought fondly of the time to bond with his O.L. “(My O.L.) was Goody Cacal, and he was such a hilarious person to be around (who) always said ‘hi’ to everyone in passing . . . I felt he was a true epitome of what an Orientation Leader should be.”
In addition to bonding with an O.L., new Vulcans attended panels full of established UH Hilo students that gave them a look into everyday life at UH Hilo. “The panels were so helpful because it gave us insight from people that we can relate to,” Ballesteros shared.
“My favorite part was when we talked about foods (…) ‘out-of-towners’ had to try, ranging from spam to strawberry mochi.” Orientation Leader Keylan Sato fondly recalled.
Outside of the classroom, different programs, RISOs, and department hosted their own activities. The Student Life Center hosted a variety of activities, from starting the day with a morning workout to weekend paddle-boarding in the pool. “I have never seen a happier group of individuals than the new students who were paddle boarding for the first time,” Sato shared. “They kept getting back up and trying again. I give them credit for trying new things.”
Limited spaces for other weekend events filled up quickly, but Ballesteros was able to find one on the HOPE Services Garden Project.
And, when he and other students got there, they were ready to work! The project focused on tilling and turning different garden beds for HOPE Services.
“The community service project was a good experience to expose new students to the kinds of volunteer and community projects in Hilo,” O.L. Marcus Hoeflinger, who worked alongside of the students, reflected. “The project really taught everyone the great contributions which can be made to the community through a little hard work and initiative. The gardens are now cleaned and ready for growing delicious crops from the program residents.”
Hoeflinger also enjoyed the overall Orientation experience, which happened to be his first. “The new students were so bright and eager to begin their new life at UH Hilo…I really felt like everyone who attended Orientation – new students, O.L.s, and faculty – had an amazing experience.” Hoeflinger shared his recollection of Orientation week. “It really felt like the establishment of a university ‘ohana, through food, thoughts, fun and spirit.”
Ballesteros ended his Orientation experience on a positive note. “I didn’t really hear any positive things about UH Hilo before arriving . . . My transition from Maui to Hawai’i would have been a lot more difficult had I not attended this week-long opportunity to get immersed into the Vulcan community.”
The experience, however, doesn’t stop at Orientation Week. The NSP team will continue to make their mark at an array of events, from athletic games to academic workshops to events to create those connections. And, they’ve already started.
At the first home volleyball game on August 29 against University of Alaska Fairbanks, the NSP team embodied Vulcan pride. “We cheered to the point where our voices could be heard from miles away. That had to be the greatest way to start up the women’s (volleyball) season, and our school year as a whole,” Sato offered.
For further information on New Student Programs and its events, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disclaimer: The author of this article is a Student Coordinator at New Student Programs.