Our Hearts Ever HOLd You, NC State: My Experience as an Orientation Leader

Orientation. It is our first introduction to life at NC State and, for many, it is nerve-racking. When I made my four hour-long drive to NC State for Orientation, I was terrified. I am from Forest City, a small town nestled in between Charlotte and Asheville. My high school boasted a senior class of 145 students when I graduated in 2018. Clearly, this is a stark contrast from the 5,000 students in the Class of 2022 that I was entering with! When I arrived to campus in June, I was intimidated and I did not want to spend much time at Orientation.

Truthfully, I just viewed Orientation as a place to come to get all of my questions answered. Where were my classes? How was I supposed to submit my vaccine records? Which meal plan should I choose? I simply wanted to show up, ask a billion questions, and then leave. Back then, I did not grasp the time, effort, and dedication that an entire team of people put in to make Orientation a positive experience for everyone. After I decided to face my fears once again last October and apply to become an Orientation leader, I fully realized this fact.

At the beginning of my first year at NC State, I would have laughed if someone told me that I would serve as an Orientation leader less than a year later. What did I know about NC State? Nevertheless, I decided to apply when I saw the application open. I knew that I needed something to do over summer and becoming an Orientation leader seemed like a good experience. Honestly, I never thought that I would get the position. I am a quiet, introverted person. I do not have the enthusiastic, bubbly personality of a stereotypical Orientation leader who dances at 7:00 a.m. when the new students just want to go back to bed. Still, I knew that leadership experience is critical, so I hesitantly applied. When I learned that I scored an interview a few weeks later, I was shocked!

As I scanned through the email informing me that I was invited to interview, I saw that my interviewers wanted me to bring a single item that represented my time at NC State. Immediately, I knew what I would bring: my Goodnight Scholars name tag. To me, the Goodnight Scholars Program is the epitome of community. Throughout my first year and beyond, this community has provided me with an immense amount of opportunity and support. Consistently, the Goodnight Scholars Program has reminded me of why I am proud to attend NC State. It exemplifies everything that I love about NC State, which is why I knew that I would bring my name tag to the interview. During my interview, I spoke about my appreciation for the community on NC State’s campus. Even though NC State is full of over 35,000 students, there are tons of little communities for everyone.

Shortly after my interview, I learned that I had gained another community within New Student Programs. I was going to become an Orientation leader!

My summer as an Orientation leader was unforgettable. I gained invaluable skills as I learned how to become an efficient leader. I faced my fears by performing in skits on stage, facilitating meaningful discussions with new students, and even maintaining an OL Instagram profile. Even though I never thought that I would be prepared for such an undertaking, my “NSP Fam” made sure that I was confident in my ability to lead. I took a semester-long course to learn all about NC State and its various resources, and I completed two weeks of training before my first Orientation session. I made valuable, life-long connections with the amazing team of Orientation leaders.

While the days were long and tiring, my newfound support system never failed to make me proud to call myself an OL. Not only did I learn about NC State, but I also learned about myself. I realized that I could be a strong, confident, and efficient leader, even though I never imagined that a reserved person like me could. The experience shaped me into a more confident, well-rounded individual. I interacted with a variety of people from all kinds of backgrounds, and I learned something new every single day. When I look back on my time at NC State, I know that my summer as an Orientation leader will always stick out. I will remember the performances, the late-night button-making in Carmichael, the lunches in Fountain, and, most of all, all of the new students who still wave and smile at me on campus, because even though I was serving as a leader for them, they were teaching me much more than they could ever imagine.

Photography credit: Jason Perry/Goodnight Scholars Program