UW – Whitewater welcomed first-year students to campus with an array of online orientation events Aug. 31 – Sept. 1. Freshmen and transfers had the opportunity to meet one another, tune into informational sessions about the university, and familiarize themselves with the campus both virtually and in socially-distanced settings.
Due to COVID-19 there weren’t as many in person interactions as in the past. However, this didn’t stop people from having a good time and benefiting from the experience.
“I partook in Warhawk Welcome because I wanted to get connections and meet people who are also transfer students. I really enjoyed all the information the mentors gave, and I’m excited to become immersed in the content of my classes,” said Ariella Simandl, a transfer student from McHenry County College in Crystal Lake, Illinois.
Attendees of Warhawk Welcome also had the opportunity to write and share their own “Dear World” statements in a personal reflection orientation session. The session was composed of three steps meant to guide attendees to create brief statements about a defining moment of their lives.
“At Dear World we believe that stories sincerely shared can save lives. We believe it’s much easier to move forward together when we know where someone’s been. In this first week of school, sharing meaningful stories with one another is a way to really connect and get off to a great start,” said founder of Dear World Robert X. Fogarty.
After the Dear World session, students were able to meet with their orientation groups for a socially-distanced dinner, followed by bowling and virtual crafts.
On the second day of the welcome event, new students spoke virtually with a peer mentor and attended a session on building a culture of consent before meeting for another socially distanced lunch to further get to know one another.
Warhawk Welcome wrapped up Tuesday evening with Paint It Purple, a UW-Whitewater tradition in which first-year students paint Warhawk Drive purple in symbolic reverie of their status as a Warhawk.
“I hope Warhawk welcome was beneficial to new students even though it was mostly online. I hope everyone who participated learned a lot and made connections that will help them through their college experience. It was different, but as a peer mentor I still tried my hardest to help my mentees get adjusted here at UWW,” said team transfer peer mentor Sammi Pruett.
Warhawk Welcome as an event may be over, but peer mentors continue to check in with their first-year student orientation groups throughout the academic year.
Classes began September 2, the day after Warhawk Welcome ended. The smooth execution of the event was an encouraging example for many about how college can continue forward despite the COVID-19 pandemic.