New program helps students shake freshmen jitters
Moving in. Making new friends. Navigating campus. Getting lost. Feeling homesick. For college freshmen, the first days of school can be quite the experience.
Radford University student Darcy Caba vividly remembers these emotions and experiences. After all, she was in their shoes not too long ago.
Caba is a sophomore criminal justice major from Fairfax, Virginia. She is also an enthusiastic volunteer. When she had the opportunity to help her fellow Highlanders this summer, she immediately signed up.
Caba was a student leader of Student Life’s new “Welcome Weeks 2020 ” program, Family Groups. Coordinated with the University’s expanded move-in schedule, the program offered new students the opportunity to get acquainted with campus and one another before the start of classes.
Once they arrived, students were split into small groups and paired with a student leader. Over the course of nine days, together, they toured campus, participated in icebreaker activities, Zoomed with faculty and staff and learned about some of the University’s most important and helpful resources.
Each day was themed to reflect Radford University’s holistic approach to living, learning and succeeding in a college environment: Move-in; Community Building; Academic Success; Diversity and Inclusion; Wellness; Career Planning; Sustainability; Leadership; and Service.
During her group gatherings, Caba enjoyed sharing her Radford experience.
“I immediately felt at home here,” she said. “I have found people here that I love, and to me, that means everything.”
Caba encouraged students to get involved in clubs and organizations and to “do something you’ve never done before.”
Personally, she has found leadership opportunities and stayed active with the Latino Student Alliance, Young Democrats and Radford University Student Ambassadors.
Reminding students that they are part of the Radford family was also an important message to send, Caba said.
While structured, the program allowed Caba and the other Family Group leaders to share tips, tricks and “life hacks” that might not immediately come to mind.
“I told them to be sure to always carry extra quarters for laundry. To rent books online to save money. To use Google calendars to remember exams and class times. I told them that they were going to make mistakes, but we are here to help pick them back up,” Caba said.
Family Groups proved especially helpful for students like A.C. Carson, a freshman from Stafford, Virginia.
Due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, campus tours and the University’s new student orientation, Quest, were shifted to an online format. Carson participated in both experiences.
“This group has been really fun,” said Carson, who participated in Caba’s group. “Darcy is so nice, and she gives really good advice. It’s good to have someone like that. I’ve already made a new friend, Jasmine. We’ve been riding our bikes together. I’m excited to start classes and begin my freshman year.”