Welcoming the freshmen of 2021 to SHU

The orientation leaders who assisted freshmen during G.O. Weekend pose for a group photo in Reeves Learning Commons. Photo from M.Zielinski on MySHU.

Seton Hill University welcomed the freshman class of 2021 with a festivity-filled Griffin Orientation (G.O.) Weekend. To kick-off the start of the year, the students spent the day of Aug. 18 moving into their new homes, attending meetings, seeing a magician/comedian, decorating cupcakes and ending the night with the midnight book store madness!

To make this event a success, a team of student orientation leaders and faculty spent a week training and setting up. Getting activities together, check in bags and Walmart trips were all completed by the volunteer student orientation leaders. The training sessions included information on how to physically and verbally express the four pillars of SHU: learning, serving, welcoming and celebrating. The group of 21 SHU students were taught how to welcome the freshmen by making them feel at home and answering any questions. Jessica Mann, Matthew Zielinski, Elise Michaux and other staff members worked diligently to make this year’s G.O. Weekend a success.

To start the weekend off, students moved into their new homes; even with the rain, the orientation leaders worked through it. Students then attended lunch in the new cafeteria where it was the last time to say goodbye to mom, dad, guardians, friends and loved ones. A new addition to G.O. Weekend was the transfer student meeting to discuss the transition from one college to another. Zielinski and Mann felt orientation typically didn’t have any sessions for transfers and adding in a transfer session was necessary.

Seniors Brandon Kushnar and Luigi Scognamiglio didn’t let the rain stop them from helping out with parking during the first day of G.O. Weekend. Photo from B.Kushnar on MySHU.

The transfer meeting was for students who attended a previous college but are transferring to SHU. Isabella Schell and Melissa Carden, SHU students, helped out Zielinski during this meeting by providing advice, information and personal experiences about transferring. “It’s a good idea because it will get them more involved with other transfers and more involved in Seton Hill community,” said Schell, the mentor for this transfer section.

Sister Maureen O’Brien and her new sidekick Marissa Haynes, faculty member who is coordinator of service outreach, provided a “do it yourself” snack as the traditional Cupcakes with Campus Ministry continued. Comedian and magician Lee Terbosic performed for students, and certainly gave the freshmen something to laugh at while playing tricks and jokes on multiple students. To conclude the first night students attended Bookstore Madness where snacks, a DJ, door prizes, discounted items and giant jenga were all a part of the madness.

Saturday started with breakfast items served in McKenna Gymnasium while students were introduced to their class of 2021 advisors, campus ministry and other faculty. After lectures, students sang the Alma Mater and Michaux took their class picture. Sister O’Brien, director of campus ministry, gave the opening speech starting with “the welcoming environment doesn’t stop here” followed by speeches from Ashley Zullo, director of undergraduate admission, and Rosalie Carpenter, vice president for student affairs.

Students play giant jenga on the first night of G.O. Weekend. Photo courtesy of A.Shriane.

David von Schlichten, assistant professor of religious studies, and Meredith Weber, assistant director of the academic achievement center, gave the advice to “persist and keep on pluggin; it is rigorous but persevere to get up and do it” while encouraging students to get involved and work hard.

Zielinski offered his role on campus and how being a Setonian means students becoming “positive community members.” A video of current class officers was played to give a description of what the commitment includes, the work ethic you need but also the success it brings and the outcome it will have on the student’s future life.

From the morning event, students rode buses down to the Performing Arts Center to watch skits that demonstrated Title XI situations such as stalking, alcohol, sexual misconduct and gender equality. “This is something that we as orientation leaders and residential assistants together create and bring to the first year students,” said Emily Wardropper, junior music therapy major at SHU.

After lunch, students attended Mobile Learning on the Hill where students learned about the technological advances SHU provides. Students met their connections class mentors and had a break to prepare for the Target Takeover. This event was for students to pick up any last minute things, eat pizza, dance and literally “take over Target.”

Sunday concluded the busy weekend with some relaxing events. The day began with a scavenger hunt throughout SHU’s campus. Brunch was provided followed by the last G.O. Weekend meeting for the connections classes and their mentor. Following the meeting was the Bystander training, another meeting required by the state that entails describing to students that peer influence will often depict the behaviors people engage in.

The Griffin Games took place on DeChantal Lawn after dinner in the new dining hall. “The event went very well and gave first year students a chance to act silly while making new friends and interacting with upperclassmen,” said Ryan Myers, senior at SHU, who provided a wide variety of games. Mass on the Grass was quite crowded with the new Chaplain Father Pio. To conclude the weekend, fireworks were set off and could be seen from almost every angle of campus.

UPDATE: An earlier version of this article incorrectly attributed Ryan Myers as a junior and has been corrected to senior.

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