Orientation Peer Assistants help guide new students on campus

Think back to your orientation week. Did you need help figuring out where to go and what to look for? It’s quite a common experience. 

Luckily, we have Orientation Peer Assistants to help — a community filled with students to help guide and welcome new students. 

Alexis Edmundson, New Student and Family Programs Graduate Assistant, explained how students could benefit from being an Orientation Peer Assistant.

“There are several benefits to becoming an OPA. You have the option to live on campus during summer term. And receive a free meal at the University Dining Center on Summer Orientation Dates,” she said. “Finally, OPA’s develop strong leadership skills and life-long connections with their fellow OPA’s.”

Orientation Peer Assistants can provide many options for new students. They guide students by engaging with them and helping them make connections.

“They have the opportunity to offer direction on orientation dates, conduct large and small group conversations, interact with new students, and help with class registration,” she said.

Edmundson said Peer Assistants have different responsibilities when working in the summer..

“These work days are typically 7 a.m.-4 p.m. Outside of summer orientation dates, there will be some opportunity to complete office work as needed. Typically, OPA’s can expect to work 15-20 flexible hours per week with some opportunity to reach 40 hours per week as needed at a rate of $13 per hour.” she said. 

For students who are currently interested in applying, Edmundson had this to say.

“Students must submit an OPA application form, resume, essay questions, and three references to,”  she said. “The application’s due date has been extended to Friday, March 1st.”

There are different traits that a student may possess when joining the program. Edmundson said she believes that successful OPAs are “curious”, “kind”, and “adaptable.”

A previous Orientation Peer Assistant, Madelin Brussel, said she wanted to become a welcoming face to new students coming to the university.

“I. I remember how nervous I was coming in, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity,” Brussel said.

Working as an OPA, Brussel recalls a memorable experience when helping students during their orientation week. 

“My favorite memory of being an Orientation Peer Assistant is at the end of an orientation day all the thank yous I would get from parents and students for helping them that day. Hearing this reassured me how important my role was in helping these new students and made me excited for the next orientation to see and help more new faces.”

There are plenty of experiences students get from working as an OPA. Brussel shared more about hers.

“My favorite part of my job was getting to meet the new students and receiving questions and giving advice before school started,” she said. “I like to say that I had an impact on these new students as they were adjusting to college life.”

Brussel encourages students to join the program. Students can help their peers by “sharing their knowledge about the university.” They also benefit themselves with “a great resume builder” and create an opportunity to “learn from fellow students and the university.”

Header photo: Orientation Peer Assistants is pictured above. They are a community filled with students that help other new students feel welcomed on campus and guide them with any questions they have. (Courtesy Alexis Edmonton)

Write to Biruk Mengehsa

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