What does it mean to “be more?”
At Fontbonne, it means faculty who engage students to think beyond themselves. To think of their role in the world and how they can improve it. It means looking at community service as an integral part of the college experience — and beyond. And it means students and alumni shaped by a set of values that provides a life-long touchstone.
Orientation leaders welcome new students to Fontbonne.
For most undergraduates, beginning college at a new school is a milestone, full of firsts, unknowns and what-ifs, all of which are intensified when students come from out of state or even from another country. Most colleges and universities host at least one orientation, usually packed full of information, details and paperwork, to acclimate students to life at college. At Fontbonne University, we offer all that and then some. Here, orientation is a family affair, and current students play a major role in welcoming their new peers with open arms.
Students are carefully chosen to lead three different orientation programs: Griffin 101, Welcoming In New Griffins (WING), and the Global Griffin Experience led by the international orientation team, FIRST.
“Our goal is to build teams that allow every person coming into Fontbonne the opportunity to meet and find someone with similar qualities or attributes and learn from their success stories,” said Joel Hermann, associate director, center of leadership and community engagement. “When considering the qualities of our transition leaders, we look for students who are truly dedicated to the university and our mission. An orientation leader doesn’t have to be loud, overly energetic, or consistently bubbly to be successful, but they must love Fontbonne and feel confident in sharing that love with new students as they start their journey as Griffins.”
Throughout the summer, incoming traditional undergraduates sign up for one of five Griffin 101 orientation and registration sessions. Developed specifically for freshmen or transfer students, these half-day sessions let students and their families get their paperwork out of the way — academic registration, financial aid, campus ID and more. A Griffin 101 leadership team welcomes students and families to campus and facilitates the experience.
Meredith Amelotti, a junior studying special and elementary education, was named one of two Griffin 101 peer supervisors this year. Her own orientation experience inspired her and laid the foundation for her life at Fontbonne, and she remains aware of how critical orientation is for new students.
“What drives me the most is the fact that on Griffin 101 days, we are still selling Fontbonne to our students,” she said. “Everything we say and do is taken into consideration and can make or break a decision for an incoming student. This drives me as a leader to always be on top of my A game — to be more — in order to provide the best experience possible for our incoming students and their guests.”
The week before fall classes begin, WING Leaders take over. Each new, first-year student is assigned to a WING team, led by two WING Leaders. The teams meet throughout orientation weekend, then compete together during the Griffin Games, a field day competition complete with team colors, friendly rivalry, and hopefully, connection.
“What I remember most about my orientation experience is being excited to come to Fontbonne, but also being super nervous to be surrounded by so many new people,” said Emily Haley, a junior deaf education major and a WING orientation coordinator. “Once I was with my WING team and saw all the WING Leaders’ energy and enthusiasm, that feeling went away. I remember how much fun I had with my WING team, and by the time orientation was over, I felt confident that I would have no issues making friends here and getting involved.”
International students have an even steeper learning curve than domestic students. They have to navigate language barriers, unfamiliar systems and a culture far different than what many know. But Fontbonne wants all students to feel welcome, no matter where they’re from. FIRST orientation leaders hail from all over the globe and help new international students acclimate not just to Fontbonne, but to an American way of life.
“I wanted to be a FIRST Leader because I know how difficult it was for me when I first came to the USA,” said Thao Nguyen, an early childhood education major from Vietnam. “I want to help new international students, especially those who are struggling with language barriers. I want new students to feel welcomed here at Fontbonne, and I want them to know that FIRST Leaders and school staff will always be there to help them every step of the way.”
Ultimately, orientation programs benefit the entire campus. New students gain a sense of community and belonging, a taste of the opportunities available to them, and an introduction to the friendships they will, hopefully, maintain throughout their lives. Current students hone and share their school pride, while using their own memories and experiences as a guide to becoming more empathetic leaders and peers.
“I want new students to know that there are many people who are always willing to help answer questions or help in any way that is fitting,” said Amelotti. “You have to learn more to be more. We were all in the position of being new on campus once!”
Be More at Fontbonne
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Questions? Contact our Office of Admission: 314-889-1400 or 1-800-205-5862 | firstname.lastname@example.org