Stanford New Student Orientation Volunteer, 2010 - 2012
I was a typical freshman coming into Stanford, very excited about the prospect of college, living on my own, making new friends, and learning as much as I could. But I was also very nervous. We're thrown into a completely different environment, living with strangers for roommates, and have no idea what to expect. As we drove up Palm Drive on the first day of my freshman year, there were students with signs saying "Welcome!" and jmping up and down, so excited that the freshmen were coming. We drove up to my dorm, where I got out of the car and started walking to the check-in table, when all of the sudden, someone yelled "MICHELLE GRAU, WELCOME TO STANFORD!!!" into the microphone (turns out that all the dorm staff make flashcards with our pictures and memorize everyone's name before we get there so they can surprise us like that). At the sound of my name, my hall's RA came running over to introduce himself and make sure I knew where I was going. Once I had my keys and went back to my car, a herd of Orientation Volunteers came with me to unload my stuff from the car and take it to my room. I was astrounded. I had been there for maybe 10 minutes, and I already felt right at home because everyone made me feel so welcomed.
At the end of my freshman year, I got an email about applying to be an Orientation Volunteer for the next year's freshmen. I filled out the form immediately, knowing I wanted to give back and help make the new freshmen feel just as welcomed as I did - and I did the same the subsequent 2 years, so I have been an Orientation Volunteer 3 times. As an Orientation Volunteer, I come back to campus 10 days before school starts. We spent three days in training and preparation, doing things like painting the WELCOME! signs people jump up and down with on Palm Drive, helping dorm staff decorate dorms, and setting up for events (like 4000 foding chairs for Convocation). Moving day is the most fun and exhausting, where we get up at the crack of dawn to be in place when the first freshman arrives. I love the look on parents' faces when we explain that we are there to help unload all of their child's stuff and take it to their rooms - they are just as amazed and grateful as my parents and I were when I moved in. We then set up, staff, and clean up for every event that happens during the week-long orientation. It makes for an exhausting week, but it's totally worth it to me make the freshmen feel as welcomed as I did, because it really can make all the difference.