Forging Ahead with Freshman Orientation

[by Amanda Ables]

New Broncho Orientation, or Forge, is usually a summertime, overnight event for incoming freshmen. Attendees have fun while also learning about everything UCO has to offer including housing, scholarships, safety, financial aid, and more. Campus offices and organizations, including the STLR staff, also come to welcome the students and describe the special UCO culture.

This year Forge looked a little different due to COVID-19 restrictions. Incoming freshmen attended virtual activities over the summer, then joined for day-long in-person activities the week of August 10th called Forge 2.0. And yes, social distancing was observed and masks were worn.

photo of freshmen at UCO orientation 2020Caleb Cash, the Associate Director of Student Engagement and organizer of Forge, shared his excitement for the students and explained how the students remained safe and were able to still have fun.

“Forge In-Person was designed to give students the opportunity to learn the culture and traditions we could not teach virtually this summer. We were excited to offer students the ability to meet other incoming students and our student leaders. During this program, our students were physically distant with activities and seats while also wearing a mask to ensure student and leader safety. I was excited to see the students learn and grow during this time and it was great to see all the new faces on campus.”

Jada Wells, the student Executive Director for Forge this year, expressed how excited she was even during this difficult time.

“We were so excited for Forge 2.0! These are different times, but we still wanted to show the incoming students a fun time and a warm welcome to our campus! We took all precautions to make sure we all remained safe but still enjoyed ourselves.”

Orientation Leaders (OLs), undergraduates hired to assist with Forge, were still showing enthusiasm. Raegan Griffin, who has been an OL for the past 2 years, understands how hard freshmen year can be, especially in these new circumstances.

“Speaking from a returning orientation leader standpoint, I understand their transition to college might be extremely difficult. Especially with COVID-19 making this transition a lot harder. I’m excited to just give incoming students hope and excitement to be here.”

Orientation Leaders are a STLR-tagged group, so will soon be reflecting on what they learned about leadership during this year’s Forge, requiring flexibility, teamwork, and other skills.

UCO and STLR are determined to give students the opportunity to have a good year despite COVID-19. There are still opportunities to earn STLR credit on campus and virtually, including STLR-tagged events, groups, locations and assignments. To learn more about STLR credit opportunities visit https://stlr.uco.edu/activities.

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