Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Diana Donovan: Five questions with...

It is that time of year again. Parents know what we are referring to because of the melancholy (or perhaps excitement) they are feeling because their child is leaving for school again, while recent alumni know what we are talking about because they feel just a bit off since they are not preparing for classes or buying textbooks right now.

Of course, we are referring to the beginning of the fall semester, and this year (like every year), there is a contingent of individuals that are experiencing the adventure and stress of starting their college career.

Whether you spent four (or more) years at JU or transferred from another school, we all had to experience the first days of college. The emotions first-year students can have range from excited to terrified. For some, they see it as a genuine opportunity to start a new chapter in their life. Others worry about leaving the comfort zones they have known for so long.

At Jacksonville University, we recognize the stress that can be involved in this transition, which is why first-year students are invited to school early for Orientation Week. This series of activities allows students to learn more about the campus and community, as well as network and build new friendships with those going through the same process.

JU’s Orientation Week is primarily organized by current students. Heading the New Student Orientation this year was Diana Donovan, a senior majoring in psychology. In collaboration with a team of students, they spent the spring and summer planning they types of events that would allow the incoming class the most fun and interactive way to start college.

With the orientation events now complete, the Dolphin Network sat down with Diana to talk about how everything went and what her advice is for this year’s (and next year’s) first-year students:

1. You were in the same position as these incoming, first-year students just a few years ago. What do you remember about those first days and how did that help you develop ideas for this year?
As a freshman, I remember the immense intimidation of a new university in a completely different state. The sudden rush of independence was definitely my favorite part, however, like every freshman, my biggest concern was making college a second home. Familiar, friendly faces were my favorite kind and as we began orientation this year, I tried to spread that same warmth and welcoming feeling to the new families and especially the new students.
2. The incoming students will see the finished product of Orientation Week, but to make it possible, a lot of work had to go into its preparation. Can you talk about the time and effort it took to develop the finished product?

Starting in May, myself and three other coordinators began chipping away at what turned out to be a great series of events. There were many early office hours, many meetings, and much hard work put into refining each individual piece. Each coordinator pulled their weight and took initiative wherever needed. Fortunately, we had the guidance of Assistant Dean Kristie Gover, whose strong character and infinite patience helped motivate us to keep working towards completion.
3. What aspects of the Jacksonville University community do you feel make it a comfortable place for new students to assimilate into?
For me, Jacksonville University’s most welcoming attributes are held within the people. I find myself most at home with the friendly student atmosphere, congenial staff and the personal interest of the professors. Everyone - from the president, to campus security, to the newest faculty members, to the landscapers - put so much of their heart into JU, and you can’t help but feel that enthusiasm radiate within you. With the help of the Jacksonville University community, students can be assimilated with great ease.
4. What types of questions / concerns do first year students typically have?
Giving tours and through Orientation Week, I expect to get asked a range of questions because everyone has individual concerns on what they need to know to feel the most comfortable with a new situation. For example, I typically get asked questions about the safety of the campus, the quality of the café food and what happens if they are less than thrilled with their roommate.

One of my favorite questions to answer is whether freshman are allowed to have a car on campus because the answer is yes…..and parking is free (Every student loves free!)
5. With the orientation process over and classes beginning, what is your advice to freshman for a successful semester? What advice would you give to the high school seniors that are just a year away from being part of this orientation process?
My advice to the freshmen this year is to get involved. Find something you are passionate about on campus and pursue it. Invest your time and efforts and you will find that Jacksonville University will invest in you.

For the high school seniors, enjoy the closure of high school, friends and family at home, as well as all of your favorite home cooked meals. It’s fine to be nervous, as long as you are excited, know that everything will work out fine, and prepare yourself for some of the best four years of your life.

To learn more about the application and admission process at JU, click HERE

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