The Weekend of Welcome that introduces new students to Saint Mary’s has a lot of unique hallmarks—from the Welcome barbecue and Carnival to the Saturday of Service and the gloriously messy “Paint the SMC” experience. It all adds up to a weekend worthy of its acronym—WoW. But one thing holds it all together: the cadre of trained student volunteers known affectionately as “WoWies.”
Unlike at other schools, where upperclass students might haze freshmen, at Saint Mary’s the more experienced students are there to lend a hand. This year, a total of 71 WoWies and 44 other volunteers hauled suitcases, laptops and TVs into the dorms, shepherded new students and transfer students, and generally helped to ease the sometimes rocky transition to college life.
The WoWies prepare for their task with an intensive two weeks of training. “We learned leadership skills, icebreakers and how to use inclusive language, like not calling freshmen ‘kids,’” Mitchell Woodrow, a sophomore business major, said with a smile. Some students even spend a month on campus during the summer, serving as orientation leaders for freshmen and transfers.
Here’s what a few of the WoWies, orientation leaders, new students and their parents had to say about the Weekend of Welcome.
WoWies and Orientation Leaders
Junior, Liberal and Civic Studies
It was a great experience being helped when I moved in, and I love helping out. I enjoy that feeling of showing that “you’re part of our family now, so we’ll be helping you in every way we can.” And all to make sure the students succeed.
I was so nervous last year, and Weekend of Welcome really helped, so this year I wanted to be on the other side of the experience. It brings out the community spirit of Saint Mary’s.
It’s one of the best ways to get to know other people and all the new students. I love working Weekend of Welcome because the new students and parents are always so grateful.
My freshman year was kind of hard because I was from out of state and I missed my home and my particularly my mom, but I had a really good WoW leader, and he helped me make some good friends. It was a learning experience. So I wanted to give back. I love to see all their faces and watch them grow.
This is my second year volunteering for Weekend of Welcome. It’s great seeing how you can affect everybody and make everybody excited just by being excited. It’s a feeling you can’t get anywhere else.
Freshman, Biology/Integral Studies
It was hectic. I had a lot more stuff than I thought I had. (More than would fit in one car.) But they were very helpful. Her father added: It was an amazing experience. I’m glad I didn’t have to haul all that stuff up the stairs. It was a very kind gesture.
Everyone is so excited to see you. No one was like, “You’re just a little freshman.” His mom chimed in: I loved how we pulled up and they unloaded your car!
By Teresa Castle