Aaron Lee, a junior biochemistry and public relations double major from Williamstown, NJ (Gloucester County) shares his student leadership experience.
Absolutely amazing! Those are the only words I can use to describe my experience at the NODA (The Association for Orientation, Transition, and Retention in Higher Education) Region VII Conference. Over spring break, eight of my peers and I were given the opportunity to go to Virginia Tech for a weekend. We served as representatives of Rowan and its orientation team, the PROS. The best part was that the entire trip was funded by Rowan’s Office of Orientation & Student Leadership Program (OSLP).
Throughout the weekend we not only got to go sightseeing, but we also got to learn more about how other universities and colleges run their orientation programs. Orientation is an experience all Rowan students have, and I’m sure we could all think back to our first time on a college campus. The mixed feelings of excitement and nervousness blend together to create a unique sense of unease and exhilaration. Will I fit in? Will I be able to keep up in classes? How am I going to handle living away from home/commuting? Why are they making me do this cheesy ice breaker? I’m sure we all had many questions, worries, and doubts just like these. Orientation is all about easing that transition and helping students address those concerns, and I’m thrilled to be a part of that. Without a doubt orientation has an impact on students, and having insight into how we could improve our program is so valuable for me. This trip gave us the ability to do that first-hand, and bring back new and interesting perspectives on leadership and orientation.
Although I like thinking about how this trip has helped me gain new perspectives and grow intellectually, I can’t deny that it was straight up fun. I got to spend a weekend in a new location with seven of my closest friends from the orientation team for free! We explored the campus and hung out in our free time. I personally spent time networking with some amazing people from universities all across the east coast. I exchanged numbers with tons of people and made some amazing connections over this trip. Nearly 40 institutions gathered together at this event and it showed. Every workshop, presentation, and cheesy icebreaker were electrifying. Finally, one of the best parts is that all the presentations were run by students. It created a relaxing, informative, and fun atmosphere for nearly every session.
All in all, the NODA Region VIII Conference was an awesome leadership experience. I know the word “leadership” can be scary to many of us, however; I would challenge those of us who aren’t involved in leadership on Rowan’s campus to try taking that first step. Run for executive board for an organization or club, apply to be apart of PROS or become a Resident Assistant. Find opportunities to take that first step because you’ll never know where it can take you. Who knows? Maybe it could land you an opportunity to go to a conference yourself someday.
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Photos provided by Camryn Hadley
Story by Aaron Lee