A ‘fresh start’ to the semester

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Fresh Start Weekend is a time for freshmen students and transfers to get their first taste of what Saginaw Valley has to offer. But it’s also a time for them to understand the ins and outs of what being a student at SVSU is all about.

The actual Fresh Start event itself was held on Friday, Aug. 26, in the O’Neil Arena and was mandatory for all freshmen to attend. Each year, the Fresh Start event has one keynote speaker give a motivational presentation on how to succeed during their college years. The keynote speaker this year was Arel Moodie, a speaker on student success and leadership.

“I volunteered for Fresh Start because SVSU has just given me so many great opportunities, and I felt very welcomed as a freshmen, so I just want to give back,” said third year business management major Rachel Kruk. “They get a chance to meet with the faculty and get more exposed to the potential field that they’re going into. They get to meet a lot of the upperclassmen ,too, that will help them out around campus.”

After the keynote speaker, all of the freshmen were then moved into groups based on their chosen majors. There, they got to speak to the faculty within those departments and ask any questions they might have about the coming year.

Arielle Howard, a first-year business management student, valued this opportunity to be able to connect with staff and other students in her department.

“It was a good experience, and I got a lot information that I didn’t know,” Howard said. “It gave me a chance to see if I really wanted to go into that major. Everybody was nice and helpful and happy around here.”

However, there was one aspect of Fresh Start she didn’t quite enjoy.

“Me personally, I didn’t like the high-five train, but that’s the only thing that I would have changed,” Howard said.

Despite being the weekend’s namesake, the Fresh Start event was not the only activity planned for the Fresh Start Weekend. Other activities included events such as Yoga in the Yien, a part-time job fair, the Dakaboom Live Comedy Show, THEE House Party, the Red Pride Picnic, University Life Orientation and more.

The University Life Orientation, also called “Peer Theater,” was hosted by Peer Health Administration (PHE) as an engaging way to introduce the new students to the rules of the university. The orientation also taught them ways to be safe and healthy for their coming experiences.

“It’s called University Life Orientation, but what we call it is Peer Theater,” said Cortney Heileman, the coordinator of PHE. “What we do is we take different skits that we get from our national affiliate and we recreate them and act them out, and they talk about different obstacles that the students, especially freshmen, might be encountering during their first year here at SVSU. We teach them how to be safe at the party, how to make better choices, what do you do if you’re overwhelmed and stressed or depressed.”

There are multiple mandatory activities that freshmen must attend during their first weekend here, including Fresh Start, University Life Orientation, and house and floor meetings with Resident Assistants for on-campus residents. One resident assistant, Alina Anderson, a fifth-year elementary education major, understands the value of these mandatory activities.

“They get to learn a lot about the university, things that upper classmen either learn to grow or learn as a freshmen coming in,” Anderson said. “I think that, especially University Life Orientation, it really deals with the culture of SVSU. This is a more serious one about what we do and we do not tolerate, and before going to this idea, they have no idea. They are going to learn a lot about the culture of SVSU and what we stand for and what we believe in.”

Saturday evening held two major events – a performance by Dakaboom, a singing comedy duo, and THEE House Party, which is designed to help students learn how to stay safe when attending parties off campus.
Both events are returning because they have been successful in the past, according to Anthony Cianciolo, assistant director of Student Life.

“Dakaboom came back because they kill it every year,” Cianciolo said. “So, it’s a decision between Program Board and Valley Nights to bring them back because the students that went and saw them loved them and want them to come back for everyone else to enjoy.”

Mylissa Atkinson, a first-year pre-med major, went to the Dakaboom performance accompanied by her friends, and she had low expectations for the event before being surprised by the performance.
“It was a lot better than I thought it was going to be,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting it to be as funny as it was. I thought it was going to be some stupid comedy, but it wasn’t. I loved how they would get sidetracked and go do something else.”

Fresh Start Weekend is a way to also get students interacting with each other while also getting accustomed to the campus and university itself.

“I’m looking forward to making lots of friends and letting whatever happens happen,” said Bradley Albrant, a first-year electrical engineering major.

With all of the events happening on campus this weekend, as well as coming weekends, it sometimes becomes hard for students to know what all is happening on campus.

With other big events coming up throughout the year like homecoming and Battle of the Valleys, Rachel Florence-Spaetzel, director of orientation programs, purchased an app called SVSU Engage for the university.

“What’s cool about it is that we’ll have it for the full year, so we’re going to be testing it out and putting some other events in there,” Cianciolo said. “Homecoming events are already in there, which is really cool. We’re working to make sure that all Program Board and Valley Nights events are in there as well.”

The app is user-friendly in that the user simply clicks on a button on the events they are interested in, and that adds those events to a list that the user can check later and use them as a reminder system.