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MTSU SOAs help welcome incoming freshmen to True B...

MTSU SOAs help welcome incoming freshmen to True Blue community

Staff and students with MTSU's Office of New Student and Family Programs recently coordinated another CUSTOMS orientation to welcome incoming freshmen. Shown outside the James Union Building are, from left, Lydia Cayton, coordinator for New Student and Family Programs; Gina Poff, director of New Student and Family Programs; student orientation assistant Madison Oler, a music business major; and student coordinator Heather Quintanilla, a biology major. (MTSU photo by Keundrea Simpson)

As newly minted high school graduates get ready to take on the new experience of college life, many people stand ready to help guide them along their academic journey.

At MTSU, student orientation assistants, or SOAs, play a critical role in making incoming freshmen feel right at home during the annual CUSTOMS orientation sessions coordinated by New Student and Family Programs.

CUSTOMS prepares new students for MTSU’s educational opportunities and shows them the ropes on being a student on the Blue Raider campus. Donning their signature green T-shirts, SOAs provide a relatable face to guide students around campus and toward academic success.

Staff and students with MTSU New Student and Family Programs recently coordinated another CUSTOMS orientation to welcome incoming freshmen. Picture, from left, outside the James Union Building are Lydia Cayton, coordinator for New Student and Family Programs; Gina Poff, director for New Student and Family Programs; student orientation assistant Madison Oler, a music business major; and student coordinator Heather Quintanilla, a biology major. (MTSU photo by Keundrea Simpson)

Staff and students with MTSU’s Office of New Student and Family Programs recently coordinated another CUSTOMS orientation to welcome incoming freshmen. Shown outside the James Union Building are, from left, Lydia Cayton, coordinator for New Student and Family Programs; Gina Poff, director of New Student and Family Programs; student orientation assistant Madison Oler, a music business major; and student coordinator Heather Quintanilla, a biology major. (MTSU photo by Keundrea Simpson)

“It’s important to have SOAs because they have experienced college life, and they can give their perspective on why it is important to get involved,” said Gina Poff, director of New Student and Family Programs.

Maegan Schwartz, a junior management major from Talbott, Tennessee, is enjoying her second summer as an SOA. She said she believes she and her colleagues must be open-minded about their new fellow students in order to build a connection with them.

CUSTOMS student orientation assistant Maegan Schwartz

Maegan Schwartz

“We are the face of MTSU, and the impression that we give off on incoming freshmen will be the last impression when they leave,” said Schwartz. “There are so many networking opportunities in this position, and not only do I get to connect with my students but the rest of MTSU as well.”

Although the incoming freshmen engage in a wealth of activities during CUSTOMS, the SOAs also benefit by visiting many areas around campus they may not normally visit while also having a chance to talk informally with students and their families and answer questions throughout the orientation.

MTSU’s orientation program uses the theme of the process of leaving and entering a new country — the university — and “going through customs,” thus the name CUSTOMS. New students are grouped together by majors for advising purposes, and country names are used to identify these groups. When students sign up for CUSTOMS, they receive their country and group assignment.

CUSTOMS information includes:

  • Registering for classes early.
  • Learning the way around campus.
  • Touring residence halls.
  • Attending group meetings with academic and career advisers.
  • Collecting a wealth of information on university life and student services.
  • Checking out MTSU’s dining options.
  • Meeting other new students.

Now in its third session for CUSTOMS, MTSU’s student support services has several more sessions scheduled for the remainder of the summer.

To learn more, visit http://mtsu.edu/customs or contact Poff at 615-898-2454 or at gina.poff@mtsu.edu.

— Keundrea Simpson (news@mtsu.edu)

Incoming MTSU freshmen and their families mingle in the atrium of the Student Union Building during a recent CUSTOMS orientation session on campus. (MTSU photo by Keundrea Simpson)

Incoming MTSU freshmen and their families mingle in the atrium of the Student Union Building during a recent CUSTOMS orientation session on campus. (MTSU photo by Keundrea Simpson)


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