Over the summer, campus is full of anticipation and excitement as orientation groups take over the Campus Center. While incoming students and their parents file in to learn what’s in store for the next four years, they meet a fellow student who will be an impactful mentor—their OTEAM leader.
This year, 30 OTEAM leaders from different majors, classes and experiences served as Summer Orientation Student Leaders. They use their skill sets to make students feel welcome and set them up for success going into their first year.
“I had a really good experience with my OTEAM leaders, so coming into orientation was really life changing. And then Bridge was a phenomenal experience for me. I had two leaders that really made an impact on me, and I still talk to one of them daily,” said Alexa Monteilh, a senior OTEAM leader.
“It’s just a great experience and something I wanted to give back to other people coming in because I know that transition can be scary.”
Monteilh, a fitness management and personal training major in the School of Health and Life Sciences, knows that being the first friendly face students meet on campus is an important job that can have a lasting impact on freshmen.
“It’s still kind of surreal to me, especially because I had an experience with a student last year where she came up to me and told me that it meant the world to see someone representing a woman of color because I’m Latina,” said Monteilh.
“That really warmed my heart. I was happy crying the whole day because I didn’t really have people to look up to, so being that for other people just means the world.”
To be a member of OTEAM, students go through two weeks of training to learn the process for orientation, important information about each school and department on campus, and strong communication skills. The group becomes a well-oiled orientation machine, leading groups of new students and parents to information sessions and giving housing tours, all while answering questions and encouraging students to have fun.
“Everybody is stressed thinking you have to do this, this, and this before college, so I like being that person that’s like ‘Yes it’s serious, but it’s okay, we’re going to sit back and relax. We’re going to get through it and have fun while we’re doing it,’” said Tate Helm, a senior OTEAM leader.
And the OTEAM leaders get to have fun too. The team gets ready to go in the early mornings by playing “Just Dance” and listening to music. And when the day is done, they like to go to the pool together or out to dinner.
“We have fun every day,” said Jacob Truman. “We start every day with a cheer. We end every day with a debrief; we talk to each other; we eat lunch together; and we hang out outside of work. It’s really a community experience, and you really get to know them as family.”
OTEAM’s job doesn’t stop at orientation. The team will also help with Bridge, a week of programming for incoming freshmen the week before school starts, to help new students feel comfortable with campus and ready for classes. Then, leaders will help with first-year seminar classes by working with freshmen to access resources, get involved on campus, and make a successful transition to college life.
“I want to be able to impress upon students early that you can do whatever you want to do in college. It’s not up to your parents; it’s not up to your friends. You are here for you and to get to where you want to go,” said Truman.
Truman, a senior OTEAM leader studying political science, says he wanted to join OTEAM to break out of his shell before graduating and going to law school. Now, he works to help others do the same.
“OTEAM is the most impactful job I’ve ever had,” said Truman.
“It’s a job where you’re going to have a lot of fun. Every day you’re going to meet someone different and have different experiences. You’re never going to have the same thing twice.”