Barry McNamara  |  Published August 17, 2021

Welcoming Committee

Monmouth’s new students to be met on Aug. 21 by enthusiastic orientation leaders.


HERE TO HELP: Some of the orientation leaders and first-year mentors who will welcome Monmouth&#3... HERE TO HELP: Some of the orientation leaders and first-year mentors who will welcome Monmouth's new students are, from left, Elizabeth Gustafson, Mariah Garzee, Allie Ramlo and Sreya Roy.MONMOUTH, Ill. – Before this week is over, more than 200 new first-year students will arrive at Monmouth College, where they will be welcomed by the entire campus community in what College officials hope will be “as normal an orientation as possible.”

Chief among those doing the welcoming will be a group of 27 students who are either first-year mentors or orientation leaders.

“It’s a really impressive group,” said Monmouth faculty member Joan Wertz, who helps coordinate orientation activities along with Co-Dean of Students Michelle Merritt. “They’re very attentive, enthusiastic and helpful. It’s a nice blend of students returning with experience and some new faces.”

Those students will return to campus Wednesday, Aug. 18, then have two full days of training in advance of the main move-in day for all new students on Saturday, Aug. 21. Some of the new students they’ll be leading have already arrived at Monmouth as part of the College’s three-week Summer Opportunities for Intellectual Activities program or to play on the football team. Others – including more fall sports athletes, international students, and marching band and pipe band members – will also arrive on Aug. 18. Fall classes begin Aug. 25.

Wertz and Merritt got a sneak preview of the group’s abilities to lead during summer orientation, when about half of the 27 students were on campus to help with that event.

“They’ve actually met a lot of the new students already,” said Merritt. “So they’ve had a chance to talk a little bit, get on Snapchat, that kind of thing.”

One of those veterans is Elizabeth Gustafson ’22 of Kewanee, Illinois.

“It feels like yesterday that I was moving in my freshman year, and orientation weekend brings those wonderful memories flooding back. The energy and positive vibes on campus will be unmatched.” –– Elizabeth Gustafson ’22

“As I begin my senior year, I am more excited than ever to welcome the first-year students,” she said. “It feels like yesterday that I was moving in my freshman year, and orientation weekend brings those wonderful memories flooding back. The energy and positive vibes on campus will be unmatched.”

A year ago, the College had on-campus learning, but many other activities were canceled. That included orientation events such as PlayFair, the involvement fair, and the New Student Walkout, which will all return this year.

An in-person fall

“We’re hoping to have as normal an orientation as possible,” said Merritt. “We didn’t have any of those three orientation events last year, so we’re looking forward to bringing them back this year. It was very difficult for students to meet and connect last year due to COVID. So we’re looking to help them connect to not only each other, but to the greater campus community and the resources of the College.”

Later this semester, the College plans for the students to experience in-person Homecoming, including a home football game, rather than events held virtually or not at all because of the pandemic.

“I’m excited to have everyone back on campus again, and to get started on the orientation activities. I’m most excited to get back to doing some missed Monmouth traditions again this year.” –– Cal Bigham ’22

“I’m excited to have everyone back on campus again, and to get started on the orientation activities,” said Cal Bigham ’22 of Aledo, Illinois. “I’m most excited to get back to doing some missed Monmouth traditions again this year.”

Wertz said the first-year mentors and orientation leaders have a simple goal: “We’re really looking to help the students get off to a good start and a normal start.”

Sreya Roy ’22 of Kolkata, India, embraces the opportunity.

“I’m very excited to meet the new students because, as an orientation leader, I get to guide them to the different resources on campus and help them develop a strong, independent and positive self-image,” she said.

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