First-year students cover the University Center front lawn as orientation leaders raise colorful foam fingers into the air. A Bruno Mars song begins to play on the speakers, and Lehigh’s orientation team rushes down to the stage, ready to perform the annual orientation kickoff flash mob.
This year’s orientation for first-year students took place from Aug. 18 to Aug. 21. It began with a family barbeque and kickoff event following first-year move in.
This event served as an introduction to the university for first-year students. Speakers such as Ric Hall, vice provost for student affairs, welcomed students before they were introduced to their orientation leaders and groups.
“The orientation kick off was electric,” said orientation leader Benjamin Hodson-Walker, ‘23.
This year’s orientation staff is composed of 86 orientation leaders and six orientation coordinators, who help to organize orientation and mentor new orientation leaders.
Training for orientation staff started in the spring of 2022. The staff gets to know each other through team building activities and work on projects to prepare themselves for the first year students, Hodson-Walker said.
Orientation coordinator Gabe Finnell, ‘22, said the orientation staff played team building games during training.
“The games that we play really boost that idea that you can be yourself and you’ll be celebrated rather than pushed down.”
Orientation leader Elise Prosen, ‘24, said the orientation team is a unique and diverse group of people who come together for a common goal.
Hodson-Walker said the community that is built among the orientation staff is a big reason why students join the team.
Along with the bonds among the staff, he said the connections formed with first-year students is one of the most rewarding aspects of the role.
Each orientation leader mentors 15 first-year students.
“(The first-year students) all were very nervous but I tried to assure them I was just as nervous,” Prosen said. “As the days go on, they come out of their shells more.”
The role of an orientation leader continues throughout the remainder of the school year. The orientation staff
members are resources for first-year students all year long, helping them navigate their first semesters on campus.
“My time at Lehigh wouldn’t have been the same without this space to be myself and be authentic and have other people celebrate that,” said Finnell.