Starting university, whether in person or virtually, can be a momentous yet nerve-wracking experience. New students often balance feelings of excitement for the journey ahead with nervousness and uncertainty for what is to come.
Arts Orientation Leaders are there to support and guide new students during Imagine Day and welcome them into the UBC family. Orientation Leaders are often the first people that students meet at the university and they play an important role in helping new students adjust to this huge transition.
Vivan Mishra, a second-year Bachelor of International Economics student and Sam Pascual, a third-year Psychology student were both Imagine UBC Arts Orientation Leaders in September 2020. We spoke with Vivan and Sam about why students should apply for the role and what they can look forward to, how Orientation Leaders helped them on their first day at UBC, the benefits of becoming a student leader for personal and career growth, and their advice for prospective Orientation Leaders.
What inspired you to first apply for the role of Orientation Leader?
Vivan: My primary motivation behind applying for this role was to try to recreate the phenomenal experience I had at Jump Start and Imagine Day, despite being in an online setting. Back when university was in-person, my Orientation Leaders truly made my first two weeks of being in Canada a memorable experience. Through them, I not only met some of my closest friends to date, but also learned a lot about UBC and my program in particular.
Sam: Since I was fairly new to UBC, I thought that applying for the role of an Orientation Leader would be a great way to immerse myself into campus life and learn more about UBC in the process. As a transfer student myself and as someone who is shy, I wanted to help first-year and transfer students that felt the same way as I did during my first year, to get settled into university life and feel welcomed into the larger UBC community.
Transitioning into university is oftentimes a stressful experience and seeing many new faces in your orientation group can be nerve-wracking. Orientation Leaders help put names to all those faces and foster long-lasting relationships.
What are some ways Orientation Leaders help new students?
Vivan: Orientation Leaders are responsible for community building within their learning communities. Transitioning into university is oftentimes a stressful experience and seeing many new faces in your orientation group can be nerve-wracking. Orientation Leaders help put names to all those faces and foster long-lasting relationships. They also act as a guide to UBC by directing new students to the appropriate resources on campus.
Sam: The role of an Orientation Leader goes beyond just campus tours and group discussions during Imagine Day. When I was an Orientation Leader, I always made a point to reach out to my group if they needed any advice, tips on settling into university life or anything under the sun, even after Imagine Day! I wanted to make sure everyone felt welcomed at UBC — despite the distance.
How did Orientation Leaders help you on your first day at UBC?
Vivan: Thinking about this brings me back to my first day moving into first year residence with my parents. When we first arrived, an Orientation Leader graciously directed us towards the right parking lot while another group directed me towards getting my welcome brief and room keys. The best part of that day was an entire group of Orientation Leaders inviting me to play a game of volleyball with them. They were all very kind and reassuring when I felt like a train wreck.
Sam: I had just moved to Vancouver from the Philippines four months prior to starting at UBC and had to basically start my life from scratch in a whole new environment. As a transfer student, I had some idea of what the university atmosphere would be like, but I was clueless with how things might go at UBC. Despite all the apprehensions I had, my Orientation Leader helped me feel welcomed into the community.
What was your favourite part of being an Orientation Leader?
Vivan: My favourite part was interacting with the new students. They were excited, nervous and had a lot of insightful questions for me about what was to come in their first year. I thoroughly enjoyed initiating icebreakers, getting to know them and seeing them make new connections with each other.
Sam: My favourite part would definitely be meeting new people. The main purpose of an Orientation Leader is to interact with new students and staff from different backgrounds, knowledge, and experiences and I feel so fortunate to have played a small part in my group’s journey at UBC. I also feel so lucky to have met seven other dedicated and passionate Orientation Leaders. I truly wouldn’t have known what to do during Imagine Day if it wasn’t for our team meetings and constant check-ins in preparation for the big day.
After learning what it was like to lead a university-wide event, I gained the confidence to try out leadership roles in different UBC clubs and explore several work opportunities around campus.
How has being a student leader helped you in your journey at UBC?
Vivan: Being a student leader has been one of the most enriching experiences of my life. As a second year student, there were multiple points throughout the year where I asked myself: If I don’t have all the answers myself, how can I possibly support my fellow students? However, you will come to realize that there is so much you can offer new students, even through a brief event like Imagine Day. I have acquired a lot of soft skills along the way that have allowed me to progress both academically and professionally.
Sam: Aside from all the memories and friends I’ve made as a student leader, I have definitely gained skills that will help me outside UBC — like how to manage a group, how to communicate professionally and effectively, and how to be quick to respond to different situations throughout the day. I think the single most impactful thing I gained in my experience as an Orientation Leader was the openness to trying out new things at UBC. After learning what it was like to lead a university-wide event, I gained the confidence to try out leadership roles in different UBC clubs and explore several work opportunities around campus.
What advice do you have for students considering applying to become an Orientation Leader?
Vivan: For those of you considering applying to be an Orientation Leader, apply early and write an honest application. It doesn’t matter whether you have a lot of experience or none at all. Also, if you’re in doubt about applying, do so anyways. The time commitment is very flexible and you receive a ton of support along the way. You never know how things will turn out.
Sam: Take a chance on this amazing opportunity! Being an Imagine Day Orientation Leader is open to everyone. Even if you’re shy, new to Canada, or whatever background you may come from, being an Orientation Leader will definitely give you another perspective on being a student at UBC. I recall having second thoughts during the first round of Orientation Leader applications, but I am so grateful I pushed through it as I now consider this one of the best decisions I’ve made during my time at UBC. I have no regrets.
Take it from Vivan and Sam — the opportunity to become an Arts Orientation Leader is one that will greatly benefit you in your journey at UBC while giving you the chance to positively impact the lives of new students.
If you are interested in welcoming new students during Imagine Day, becoming a student leader, role-modelling outstanding student leadership and engaging in personal and career development, apply to become an Imagine UBC Arts Orientation Leader by March 12, 2021.