Ah Orientation, my first love. See, SCU was the only college that I was accepted into, so I wasn’t particularly excited about attending. However, this (thankfully) changed at orientation.
I went to orientation during late July, so you can imagine what the campus looked like: gorgeous. I was super nervous; I grew up in a very small town and never really had to make new friends. I grew up with the same 7,500 people my entire life, so moving to San Jose with a population of a lot more than 7,500 was terrifying to put it lightly. However, my Orientation Leaders changed all of that.
I remember the exact moment when I started feeling like I could see myself on this campus. It was right after lunch on the first day and we had just ditched our parents. This is when my palms started sweating and the blood started draining from my face. As much as I would have HATED to admit it, at the time my mom was my rock. She was the only familiar face in a sea of strangers that seemed like they knew something I didn’t. High school groups would hang out together and the culture was very different from Idaho. I had no one, except my mother. Now, after a nice lunch underneath the palm trees, I was stripped of all familiarity when my mom went to a separate presentation. It was a good thing I am stubborn because I would be damned if I ever let on to the fact I felt less comfortable without my mother, so I played it as cool as a cucumber. I walked over to the large circle that was being formed by kids from my RLC, Alpha. My OL, Tommy, hopped into the circle and informed us that we would be learning the “Alpha Dogs” chant. After the first run through, I fumbled over my words. Tommy caught on, smiled, sucked his teeth and said “huh, classic Austin!” This was music to my ears. I smiled and waited. I knew Tommy was going to slip up today, and I HAD to be there for it. Luckily, I didn’t have to wait too long. The next round as Tommy was going through the chant with us again, it happened. He fumbled his words. I made direct eye contact, smiled, sucked my teeth and said “huh, classic Tommy!” Everyone laughed at my audacity to call out the Orientation Leader, including Tommy. I was devastated that I had to go back to Idaho for a full month and a half before starting school. I wanted to start right then and there at orientation.
Flash forward one full year to winter break of my first year. I was at home in Idaho sitting at the computer writing an article when my mom asked about Orientation. I was confused; she hadn’t mentioned Orientation in months. Turns out, she saw the OL application before I did. She encouraged me to apply because Tommy had such a big impact on me. I didn’t think that I would like the position; it was a common fact in my household that I was easily the most introverted of the family. On the other hand, I did have A LOT of fun at orientation, and what’s the harm in applying, right? That Hail Mary of an application was 100% the turning point for me. I don’t think I would be anywhere near where I am right now if I didn’t get into that program. After being accepted, I knew what I had to do. I opened my computer and closed all of my transfer applications. See, SCU was my last pick, but the only school I got into. I couldn’t help but wonder if some school made a mistake or what my life would be like at a school I wanted to attend from the get go. What if I was supposed to get into another school? What if that’s where I belonged? What if my future wife is at some school that I was supposed to go to but didn’t? What if I missed my chance to change the world? It wasn’t long after on our OL bonding retreat when I discovered that all those “what if’s” were nonsense. I wasn’t supposed to get into another school. I wasn’t going to have a better experience elsewhere. I am supposed to change the world here at SCU. This is where I belong. My position as an Orientation Leader was my favorite job thus far in my life. I loved every second; connecting with incoming students, bonding with all of my fellow OLs, creating lifelong relationships, and just unadulteratedly being myself without all the stress of school or a job I didn’t love. I will never forget my time at orientation, the impact one person can have on your life, and how amazing my job as an orientation leader was. I am beyond thankful for that program and this school for making me who I am today.