By Amanda Ramierz
Sept. 10, 2014
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.
Although many students will not forget their first week of college where they met their first friends or learned their way around campus, they sometimes forget to recognize the role the Hawk Squad played to create a welcoming environment for new Warhawks.
The Hawk Squad is a group of 10 student ambassadors that host all on-campus orientation events such as Plan-It Purple and Club U-Dub-Dub. They also host family fest and send-off.
Jalen Capesius, Mallory Eichhorn, Alex Grycowski, Samantha Gutbrod, Greg Heal, Hailey Miller, Lisa Mitchem, Jordan Moncivaiz, Bret Skaer and Megan Stoen make up the 2014-15 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,” Amberly Bell, assistant director of the UW-Whitewater First Year Experience Office (FYE) 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 application in November. Then prospective members undergo the group interview process in which students interact with one another in group activities and challenges.
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.
Bell, the graduate assistant for orientation and non-returned member of the Hawk Squad, conducts the individual interview.
Hawk Squad training entails a 16-week training course starting in January, and continuing into the fall semester.
During training sessions, prospective members hear from all department deans and leadership positions on campus.
They are then required to take a final exam on which they need to score 100 percent to continue their Hawk Squad responsibilities.
“You can train students in a lot of different ways. What you can’t do is make a person with good integrity,” Bell said about an ideal Hawk Squad member.
Bell said one of the most important roles of the Hawk Squad is hosting Plan-It Purple.
“I remember back to my Plan-It Purple three years ago and can’t help but think that when I was sitting there, all I wanted was to be on Hawk Squad,” Miller said. “I saw these high energy people in purple running around and I wanted to do that. They made Plan-It Purple and Club U-Dub-Dub so fun and I wanted to give other students that same experience.”
The Hawk Squad is so involved in the FYE often the impact is lasting.
“Even though you think you are just helping them for a day, they see it as so much bigger than that,” Grycowski said about the impact Hawk Squad members have on new students.
That lasting impact that these leaders have on students can stick with them throughout their college career.
“Being a student leader is a commitment. You live in a fishbowl. Everyone around you knows you’re on Hawk Squad and you’re expected to carry yourself in a respectable way. I’m on Hawk Squad 24/7,” Miller said.
“Being part of such an amazing team has been the highlight of my college career. I wouldn’t change anything about my Hawk Squad experience,” she said.