Orientation fellows application approaches

UM’s Orientation and Commuter Student Involvement office recruits Orientation Fellows to help assist new Canes during the first days on campus. Orientation Fellows are second, third or fourth-year students who are there to guide new students through this transition and help them settle in.

They help connect students with campus resources, give tours, host small group events and assist families.

“The University of Miami needs orientation because it provides that road map and that community building for new students,” said Stephanie Fleitas, Assistant Director for OCSI.

As the OCSI mission statement describes, Orientation acclimates students to the university. It acts as a support during the critical transition period into UM.

“It changed my mind and point of view. It got me more excited. I felt more related to UM,” said Isa Lopez, a volunteer with OCSI and former participant in orientation.

The Frost Band of the Hour is seen performing for orientation week's Canes' Take Flight on Aug. 19, 2021.
The Frost Band of the Hour is seen performing for orientation week's Canes' Take Flight on Aug. 19, 2021. Photo credit: Tatiana Alvarado

Not only essential to new ‘Canes, the Orientation Fellows program is also valuable for the Fellows themselves. For many, Orientation Fellows is the first opportunity for on-campus involvement and leadership.

The application is a small survey due on February 7th and a group interview scheduled during the following weeks.

Potential applicants may worry about not being able to lead a group, however, that shouldn’t be an issue. Orientation Leaders work with accepted Orientation Fellows to prepare them to speak in front of people.

The preparation runs during the upcoming Spring semester and during the weekend of August 13th to 14th, just before Orientation week.

“If you want to experience situations where there’s a little stress, you may have to think on the spot and you may have to think like a leader, that’s a great way to start,” said Gema Leiva Cerna, a Student Assistant in OCSI.

While students may be nervous to speak to a new group of people, these experiences help reduce that fear.

“You learn to be more outspoken,” Cerna said. “When you come into these leadership positions, I’m not sure if anyone expects you to know what you’re doing. You learn along the way.”

Becoming an Orientation Fellow also welcomes students into the Orientation community. After participating in the Orientation Fellow program, students may apply to be Orientation Leaders and eventually program coordinators.

Tatiana Alvarado, a Program Coordinator, has been involved in the OCSI for three years. She began as an Orientation Fellow and worked her way to becoming program coordinator.

“The reason I kept coming back is the atmosphere,” Alvarado said.

The Orientation Fellows group is a diverse group, spanning majors, places of origin and languages.

“The people who work within Orientation are really one of a kind,” Cerna said. “They’re special. They’re unique. They’re all their own individual characters but also loving and welcoming.”