North Texas Daily

Orientation leader welcomes incoming class to UNT

Orientation leader welcomes incoming class to UNT

Orientation leader welcomes incoming class to UNT
July 08
14:39 2014

Nicholas Friedman // Senior Staff Writer

Every year, hundreds of students newly accepted to the University of North Texas gather for a few nights in Kerr Hall to tour the campus, and learn the ins and outs of the place they’d like to call home for the next four years.

This year, 35 current students have been selected to be a part of this gathering, offering facilitation and icebreaking for each and every incoming UNT student. From group assignment in the Coliseum, to the massive Rock, Paper, Scissors game at PlayFair, orientation leaders assemble to make sure that students are confident in their decision to attend UNT.

A prepared leader

One such leader is Samuel DeLeon, a political science sophomore who has a passion for showing others he enjoys not only being a leader, but an advocate for the university.

DeLeon said he decided to become an orientation leader during his first fall semester after hearing that applications were available. DeLeon had taken leadership positions throughout high school as part of his student council, key club and cross country activities.

“On my first day of freshman orientation, I decided that I wanted to be an orientation leader. I had experienced leadership positions before attending college, but I wanted to do something here,” DeLeon said. “Since this is my first year as a leader, I learned to improve my time management skills and relay information to freshman that may be worried about being on campus.”

Training for the program took place throughout the spring semester, DeLeon said, and consisted of a three hour class every Friday morning teaching the leaders how to become peer educators to assist incoming freshmen.

“On top of that we also had a full week summer training retreat and additional training days,” DeLeon said. “This was to ensure that we were prepared to successfully welcome and make the transition as efficient as possible.”

As a member of his first orientation group, incoming freshman Emily Baker said she had heard great things about DeLeon from the other leaders as soon as she arrived for her session.

“Definitely one thing I loved when I met him was that he was constantly happy and smiling,” Baker said. “It was something that I could easily relate to.”

Baker said that DeLeon’s personality and the way he interacted with the group made him approachable and easy to talk to.

“Sam is not afraid to express himself and that is something that I love in people,” Baker said. “I can tell he is the type of person to always be there for you. “

During the summer, DeLeon said the leaders are required to stay on campus in Kerr Hall, with each leader sharing a floor with two to four others. There they work together and prepare for room assignments and hall activities.

“After the eighth orientation, we move completely out of Kerr,” DeLeon said.

The room and board is provided for all orientation leaders, as well as a summer stipend of about $2,500.

Orientation determination

DeLeon said that he applied to become an orientation leader on the principle of showing incoming classes the opportunities available to them at UNT, but he believes that it can also open the door to other opportunities.

“Reflecting back on my past year as a freshman, I believe I had one of the best and most fulfilling semesters I could have had,” DeLeon said. “This was due to having the support of everyone around me. I want to be able to act as that kind of guide for these incoming freshman.”

Ri’chard Caldwell, a former orientation leader and current graduate student, said that his experience as an orientation leader was an motivated one as well.

“I was inspired to become a leader because mine was amazing,” Caldwell said. “I was incredibly nervous about college but she made me feel like UNT was my home in the span of a few days.”

Caldwell spent three summers as an orientation leader and said that he learned how to become a role model for others.

“When you become a leader on campus the spotlight is always on you,” Caldwell said. “People see everything you do, so you should be self-aware of your behavior on public and on social media.”

Though DeLeon is only in his first few sessions as an orientation leader, he has already started to see these guidelines in use, and he is constantly improving as a leader. DeLeon said that his groups haven’t had any difficulties coming together, and he said that this makes for a better orientation experience.

“Everyone always has that one problem with somebody, but my group didn’t have any,” DeLeon said. “As soon as I related back to them and made them understand each others’ backgrounds, no groups arose and strangely there were no problems within the group. Everybody actually worked really well together.”

Another new orientation leader, senior communication studies major Savannah McCutchin said that she thinks being a leader will help DeLeon to grow as both a leader and a person.

“The possibilities at what he could do after orientation are endless,” McCutchin said. “I have been so lucky as to watch his leadership skills strive over the past month and I cannot wait to see what he does for the university next.”

Feature Image: Orientation leader Samuel DeLeon welcomes new students to UNT last weekend as they enter Apogee Stadium for orientation activities. Photo by Christina Ulsh – Senior Staff Photographer

About Author

Nicholas Friedman

Nicholas Friedman

Nicholas Friedman is the Editor In Chief of the North Texas Daily. In addition, he's had his work published at The Dallas Morning News, GuideLive and the Denton Record-Chronicle.

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