PREPARING TO LEAD
ECU orientation assistants train for incoming Pirates
June 8, 2012
By Melanie Jock
ECU News Services
East Carolina University’s orientation assistants arrived on campus June 2 to begin training that prepares them to assume leadership roles with new Pirate students and families during summer orientation.
The orientation assistants spent the following week training and learning the responsibilities of orientation. The training helps them know their role and importance in the orientation process, while learning critical customer service skills and communication techniques.
“The orientation assistants hear a lot of the presentations that go on during orientation so they know updated information and know what’s being shared with students and parents,” said Karen Smith, who oversees orientation as associate director of ECU’s First Year Center.
Students interested in a position submitted an application with two personal references and went through a series of interviews to be selected. “It’s a highly competitive process,” said Smith. “This year we had about 75 applications for the 25 positions.”
Qualifications for the position include a high energy level, interest in working with students and families, a desire for a rewarding and fun experience and enthusiasm for ECU. Assistants are provided a stipend and housing in the residence halls during training and orientation.
Mary Lesa Pegg of Winston-Salem said her favorite part of being an orientation assistant is getting new students excited about their first year.
“My ultimate goal is to find someone who is not excited about ECU and not sure about coming here, and then turn that around,” said Pegg.
Greenville native and first-year orientation assistant Andi Justice said her love for ECU drew her to the role of orientation assistant.
“I want to give students that same love I have, and show them how fun it is to be a Pirate,” said Justice.
During eight two-day orientation sessions, orientation assistants assume many responsibilities. From leading discussion groups and activities to serving as role models to incoming students, orientation assistants do their part to make every student and family member feel welcome.
The assistants shared different reasons for becoming assistants, but for many it comes down to a passion for helping others.
“I had a really great experience at my orientation,” said orientation assistant Zack Hawkins of Stedman. “I learned a lot, and I want to help others have that experience too.”
Orientation assistant Meghan Mengal, an international student from St. Lucia, said she did not get to experience orientation herself. This drove her to want to get involved and help other international students connect to the university.
“I want to get international students involved in campus to see that college isn’t as hard as it’s set out to be,” said Mengal.
Through training and team building exercises, the group of orientation assistants forms a tight bond, making new friends and continuing friendships from previous years.
“A great part of this experience is getting to know everyone and building strong relationships,” said Hawkins.
Louis Cameron is back for his third year of being an assistant, with the same goals every year: make friends, network and continue to improve advice to give to students.
He said his favorite advice is simple, “be happy, stay on track and make a difference.”
“This is the greatest job at ECU,” said Cameron. “It gives me enthusiasm and joy, and I love making a difference in students lives.”