As Orientation Week Begins, Meet Our Student Orientation Coordinators

August 28, 2017
President Johnson and the student orientation coordinators

Orientation week begins today with the arrival of new international students. As they settle in to life on campus, staff and student leaders from Wellesley’s Slater International Center will be on hand to help them. They’ll also meet student orientation leaders Emily Pearson '20 (above, left) and Nhia Solari '19 (above, right), pictured with President Paula Johnson, who have planned a wide variety of orientation activities for all incoming students.

“What’s so incredibly special about our orientation program is that we refresh it each year by hiring student orientation coordinators—returning students who bring their creative, insightful, dedicated selves to the planning process,” said Lori Tenser, dean of first-year students. “Emily and Nhia spent the entire summer at Wellesley designing and planning major orientation events, keeping in touch with incoming students, and infusing our orientation program with student-generated positive energy.”

That programming begins on August 30, when first-year students from the United States, transfer students, and Davis Scholars (nontraditional students) arrive on campus. The orientation theme is Stretch Out Loud; activities will include seminars on health and wellness, lunches with faculty members and students’ assigned mentor groups, a faculty panel on getting off to a good start academically, and a talk by author and diversity expert Maura Cullen about exploring fears, hopes, and commonalities.

“My own student orientation was just a year ago. I remember what I was thinking and feeling, and what my biggest concerns were,” said Pearson, who has not yet declared a major. “Nhia and I have designed programs to help quell those fears.”

The two have also planned a variety of fun activities: roller skating at the field house indoor tennis courts; a giant water slide near Lake Waban; a Pinterest party, where students can craft decorations for their rooms; bingo, a perennial Wellesley favorite; movies; a s’mores bar; and a talent show, where new students can demonstrate their skills.

“Once the school year starts, there’s always something to keep you busy. We want incoming students to enjoy this week, to really feel at home here, and to feel comfortable meeting other students who may be very different from them,” said Solari, a geosciences and philosophy double major.

For Pearson and Solari, this week’s orientation activities are the culmination of 14 weeks of planning, as well as their own crash course in leadership. “Planning an event is one thing; making it happen is another,” said Pearson. “It can be difficult to manage multiple threads, especially when you’re trying to create a different experience at each event. We couldn’t have asked for a better mentor than Dean Tenser.”

Solari agreed. “We had all the support we needed as we learned to be equal partners, get things done, and find a solution when we disagreed.”

On August 25, they met with Johnson to brief her on their plans. “We discussed our plans, but she was also very interested to hear about our growth and experiences,” said Pearson. “President Johnson is the type of leader that I strive to be: eloquent, warm, and absolutely dedicated to her constituents.”

Pearson and Solari will work in concert with the nearly 200 other student leaders who came to campus last week to help prepare for orientation. What’s their best advice for new students? Take a deep breath, relax, and know that you will find your community at Wellesley. Your peers, supportive staff, and faculty members will always be here to help you.