MTSU ‘Out of the Blue’ highlights student orientat...

MTSU ‘Out of the Blue’ highlights student orientation assistants’ mentoring roles [VIDEO]

Middle Tennessee State University senior Alexandria

For years, student orientation assistants, or SOAs, have played a major role with Middle Tennessee State University’s CUSTOMS summer orientation for new students.

In the July 2023 installment of MTSU’s “Out of the Blue” television program, Gina Poff, director of the Office of New Student and Family Programs, and senior Alexandria “Alex” Hamilton, provide details about this summer’s CUSTOMS and reveal the part SOAs play in mentoring the Class of 2027 and transfer students, too.

Orientation occurs from mid-May until the end of July for more than 3,000 freshmen and select dates from April 21 until Aug. 3 for transfer students.

“Out of the Blue,” MTSU’s monthly TV magazine show, is hosted by Andrew Oppmann, vice president of marketing and communications.

Andrew Oppmann, vice president of marketing and communications
Andrew Oppmann
Gina Poff, MTSU New Student and Family Programs director
Gina Poff

Poff said “the social aspect has been very important (for our new students). We want them to network with other students in their same major and other majors. They are guided by a mentor, a student orientation assistant. For the academic focus at CUSTOMS, we want to make sure they are advised, that they are on the right track to scheduling their classes and fulfilling the requirements of their major.”

Hamilton, who is from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and a speech-language pathology major, “wanted to give the same experience — kind of like a college survival guide — that I was able to get when I was starting my MTSU journey. … I give them advice and am honest with them, telling them my story so they can feel comfortable.”

Being an SOA has led numerous students to pursue careers in higher education. One success story is Casey BrownDual Enrollment Program coordinator in MTSU’s University College, who also is featured in the July “Out of the Blue.”

“There’s a lot of people in admissions and Greek Life and other areas of campus that have been SOAs and that makes me really proud,” Poff said, adding the application process begins in October and acceptance notices arrive by the holiday break.

“Out of the Blue” is available anytime on the university’s YouTube channel, the True Blue TV channel, Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV. It also airs on Murfreesboro cable Channel 9 daily at 6 a.m., 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.; NewsChannel5+ at 3:30 p.m. Sundays and on other cable outlets in Middle Tennessee, so check local listings. 

It is also available as a podcast on iTunes and Google Play. 

Watch previous episodes of “Out of the Blue” at 

— Randy Weiler (