R U ready to meet the O-Staff?

By Megan Pendagast and Nicole Veenstra

The Orientation Staff, known as ‘The O-Staff,’ is the spirited group of students responsible for welcoming incoming freshmen to Rider. Associate Dean of Freshmen Ira Mayo is in charge of the selection and training of O-Staff members and Christine Cullen, assistant director of the New Student Resource Center and orientation, also worked both behind the scenes and during the orientation process.

The selection and training of the O-Staff has become something of a tradition, dating back to 1994. Every year, a new set of students are selected to represent the Rider community and usher in a new class.

The O-Staff’s duties aren’t limited to orientation weekend; on the contrary, they have responsibilities starting as early as May. They help incoming freshmen who are taking placement tests in the spring, making the O-Staff familiar faces for when these same students return for orientation in the summer.

Both the Lawrenceville and the Westminster campuses had their own handpicked staff that ran freshman orientation this summer, representing both sides of the University.

Contact these writers at pendagastm@theridernews.com or veenstran@theridernews.com

 

Christine Cullen

Assistant director, New Student Resource Center & orientation

What was your favorite part of orientation this summer?

The thing I enjoy most about orientation is seeing the O-Staff help the new students break out of their shells and make connections to each other and to Rider. It is amazing to see the transformation that occurs in students just overnight.

What do you hope freshmen take out of orientation?

I hope that orientation helps the freshmen learn about all of the great resources that Rider has to offer them. I also hope that it shows them what a truly welcoming and supportive family the Rider community is and that we cannot wait for them to join us.

 

Ira Mayo

Associate dean of freshmen

What was your favorite part of orientation this summer?

The thing that I enjoy most about orientation is that it is a new beginning, a whole new group of students that will contribute their talents and achievements to the University. It is always fun to see how students grow from the point they enter to graduation.

What do you hope freshmen take out of orientation?

I hope that students and their families see that Rider is a caring community, dedicated to the success of its students and that if students or parents need help, we are there for them. The orientation staff does an amazing job of making new students and their families feel welcome.

Westminster Orientation Staff:

Matthew Astone

Senior, music education major

What was your favorite part of orientation this summer?

I loved training with my colleagues. It is an amazing week and a half of information, but also an amazing time to bond. Then there is move-in day. The amount of energy that we somehow [find] is beyond me, but it is definitely one of the most exciting days.

What did you take away from the experience?

I have taken away many things from orientation,  patience and pride being the two most important: Patience among fellow staff members and new students and pride for our school.

 

Brandon Ellsworth

Sophomore, music education major

What was your favorite part of orientation this summer?

I really enjoyed being a part of the student panel at the summer orientation. Having all the students and their parents asking for your advice and opinions and [hopefully] calming some of their fears or nerves about coming to Rider was really rewarding.

What did you take away from the experience?

I’ve learned how to present myself in front of a large group of people, which I think is invaluable as a future teacher. Seeing the hard work that our school puts into making incoming students feel welcome, comfortable and happy was really cool.

 

Noreen Goldberg

Sophomore, music major

What was your favorite part of orientation this summer?

I love being involved and helping others, so this was the perfect way for me to get my sophomore year started. My favorite part is the lip sync at the end. It’s when everyone comes together to show something they’ve worked hard on, no judgments, and [everyone is] able to have pure fun. I know that was my favorite part last year.

What did you take away from the experience?

This experience gave me memories that I will never forget. Making new friends, learning to build relationships and being that person someone can look up to is always something I look to achieve.

 

Maria Milazzo

Junior, vocal performance major

What was your favorite part of orientation this summer?

My favorite part of orientation this summer was the “Transitions” skit that Dean Mayo wrote. It really portrays a variety of personality types and I love hearing the reactions of students and parents when they see themselves in those characters. It was a lot of fun to put on.

What did you take away from the experience?

I have taken away a great deal of communication and people skills. I was required to confront many issues that may arise, which forces you to become a better communicator with a variety of personalities, and of course [I made] great memories.

 

Jessica Williams

Senior, voice performance major

What was your favorite part of orientation this summer?

I have seen many orientation leaders, and I find through my experiences that the best leader is 100 percent themselves. It is at that point when the new students see that they no longer need to hold up a shield. Watching them shed layer after layer is very uplifting.

What did you take away from the experience?

The biggest thing I took away from orientation is the sense of community at Rider and Westminster. I love being a part of the transition process. A family forms so fast between the O-Staff and the new students. It’s amazing.

Lawrenceville Orientation Staff:

John Carrano

Junior, psychology major

What was your favorite part of orientation this summer?

My favorite part was meeting all the new students and parents. There is nothing more exciting than being able to potentially leave a positive impact on a bunch of new students.

What did you take away from the experience?

I learned that being in a position of power is very meaningful. It was great being able to support Rider in a prideful manner and create an exciting new environment for the incoming students.

 

Eric Cottrell

Junior, elementary education and integrated science and math double major

What was your favorite part of orientation this summer?

I had two favorite parts: being able to meet and welcome the freshmen to Rider [and] the Rider Games. Watching the 10 districts battling each other for the Rider Games Championship was awesome.

What did you take away from the experience?

I took away awesome memories of bonding with the freshmen. Also, I became very close with the other O-Staff leaders, which was a great experience.

 

Sylwia Denko

Junior, elementary education and psychology double major

What was your favorite part of orientation this summer?

One of the best parts [of] orientation was the Rider Games. The spirit was awesome and everyone seemed to be making friends by the end of it.

What did you take away from the experience?

I have further built up my skills for working in a group, I have learned how much planning and organization it takes to create a successful orientation and most of all I have had a lot of fun. I want to be a person the freshmen know they can come to.

 

Christina Eugene

Senior, elementary education and American studies double major

What was your favorite part of orientation this summer?

Interacting with the new students [was my favorite part]. It was so incredible to see how shy the students were when they first arrived, but by the end of the night they broke out of their shells, during the Rider Games.

What did you take away from the experience?

The most valuable thing I can take away is patience I’ve gained working with nine of my peers and more than 700 new students.

 

Matt Hillman

Junior, public relations major

What was your favorite part of orientation this summer?

My favorite part of orientation was definitely getting to meet all the incoming freshmen and new students. Everyone was so friendly and excited to get things started at Rider.

What did you take away from the experience?

It really was a great experience. I learned a lot about teamwork and leadership this summer. I also learned a little about myself.

 

Christian Lugo

Senior, history and secondary education double major

What was your favorite part of orientation this summer?

I loved meeting and getting to know as many freshmen as I could, but most of all I loved taking part in the play, “Transitions.” It is always fun to be able to make the students and their parents laugh at our own expense.

What did you take away from the experience?

I was reminded about how quickly this all goes by. My orientation is fresh in my mind, and now I am a year away from graduating. It is crazy to think that four years ago I was stepping into Kroner for my first year at college and now I’m stepping onto campus for my fourth year.

 

Jeffrey Morales

Senior, international business and marketing double major

What was your favorite part of orientation this summer?

My favorite part of orientation had to be the small groups and the evening activities. I loved getting to know the new students.

What did you take away from the experience?

I took a lot away from this experience. [I] definitely learned to work with a group of people I did not know at all before coming in. It was also very rewarding when the students enjoyed all the hard work the 10 of us put in.

 

Laura Pantin

Senior, elementary education and integrated science and math double major

What was your favorite part of orientation this summer?

Getting to meet so many great and interesting freshmen, as well as some amazing Rider faculty and colleagues was my favorite part.

What did you take away from the experience?

Since I was a transfer student, this experience further cemented why I love Rider so much and what an awesome group of students, faculty and staff we have. O-Staff [was] an incredible experience that really helped me learn a lot about myself.

 

Ndonga Sagnia

Junior, finance, accounting and international business major

What was your favorite part of orientation this summer?

My favorite part of orientation was when the freshmen had questions about getting involved on campus.

What did you take away from the experience?

Working in large groups requires patience and understanding.

 

 

 

 

Geno Sidders

Junior, business administration major

What was your favorite part of orientation this summer?

I’d have to say my favorite part of orientation this summer, aside from hanging out with all the new students, was going to Applebee’s after long days of work or orientations. Something about the boneless wings there makes me really happy.

What did you take away from the experience?

It taught me how to relax in a stressful environment because at the end of the day everything worked its way out. Also, the networking opportunities were endless.

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