Hawk Squad influences new students

 

Feb. 20, 2014

by Amanda Ramirez

 

They were the ones who greeted you with a smiling face as you walked on campus for the first time. They were the friendly helping hands during class registration at Plan-it Purple. The ones who aided you in painting Warhawk Drive purple during Club U-Dub-Dub, and most importantly, those who provided guidance to relieve your nerves during a significant transition- the Hawk Squad.

The Hawk Squad is a group of 10 student ambassadors who host all on-campus orientation events such as Plan-It Purple, Club U-Dub-Dub and TRANSFERmation. They also host family fest and send-off.

Amberly Bell is the assistant director of the UW-Whitewater First Year Experience Office (FYE), the office that selects and manages the Hawk Squad.

“We want that 10 to look like what our student body will come in and look like so that there is full representation,” Bell said.

Bell attended UW-Whitewater, and she served as a lead peer mentor and member of the Hawk Squad during her college career.

The Hawk Squad originated in 2008 when the FYE redesigned the format of its orientation programs to make each program unique to UW-Whitewater.

FYE begins accepting paper applications in November. Then prospective members undergo the group interview process in which students interact with one another in group activities and challenges.

Bell, the graduate assistant for orientation and a non-returning member of the Hawk Squad conduct an individual interview.

Hawk Squad training entails a 16-week training course during the spring semester. During training sessions, prospective members hear from all department deans and leadership positions on campus.

Then, they are required to take a final exam on which they need to score 100 percent to continue their Hawk Squad responsibilities. Bell said while they receive intensive training, personal qualities also matter.

“You can train students in a lot of different ways,” Bell said. “What you can’t do is make a person with good integrity.”

Bell said one of the most important roles of the Hawk Squad is hosting Plan-It Purple because, for some students, Plan-It Purple is their first time on campus.

“The Hawk Squad members are that face that every single new students sees,” Bell said.

Bell described the 2013-2014 squad as a group that went above and beyond their duties.

Megan Smith, senior secondary education major, Mallory Eichhorn, junior marketing major, and Alex Grycowski, junior physical education major, were members of the 2013-2014 Hawk Squad.

“Even though you think you are just helping them for a day, they see it as so much bigger than that,” Grykowski said.

Eichhorn encourages students to apply for leadership positions during their college career to learn to work with different leadership styles and to learn more about one’s self.

“It’s also a learning experience for yourself. It’s not just that you’re having an impact on students around you, but you’re growing as an individual,” Eichhorn said.

Smith said the most important lesson she learned from her Hawk Squad experience was to never underestimate the power of a smile or a kind word.

“It goes a long way when a new student is greeted with a genuine smile walking onto campus for the first time,” Smith said.

 

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