COOKEVILLE – Smiles and enthusiasm. That’s what recent high school graduates and transfer students coming to Tennessee Tech in the fall are greeted by when they show up on campus in the summer for the Student Orientation, Advisement, & Registration program (SOAR).
Once these new students hit campus, they are greeted by a cheerful smile and helped throughout their stay by a group of enthusiastic and knowledgeable students known as student orientation assistants.
“The most important thing the student orientation ambassadors need to know is to be welcoming and open-minded because you never know where a student is coming from or their background,” said Courtney Brehm, assistant director for new student and family programs. “We always tell the SOAs that they are the first line of communication. They may be the first person they ask that hard question to.”
Created by the Office of New Student & Family Programs, SOAR is a two-day session, helping new students make the transition to Tech’s campus by reviewing and finalizing information about a student’s academic major, learning about student life, providing resources and easing any concerns before taking flight as a Golden Eagle.
This year’s group of student orientation ambassadors, who help those new students, include Emily Buckner, Nia Buntin, Corinne Cheatham, Chayton Dale, Megan Diem, Brookland Gordon, Jorja Gust, Brady Hancock, Blake Horton, Tristan Howard, Morgan Oyster, Erin Perdue, Andrew Salyer, Dulce Valenzuela, Shelby Vaughan and Jackson Williams.
“They are the best of the best,” said Brehm. “We had more than 70 applicants and we narrowed it down to the top 16.”
Several of the current SOAs had a positive experience when they attended SOAR.
“I wanted to be an SOA because of the impact they had on me,” said Diem, a junior biology major from Crossville. “I definitely thought they were so energetic and happy to be here.”
“When I came to SOAR, the SOAs had so much energy,” added Hancock, a junior nursing major from Rogersville. “My mom looked at me and said, “you could do that.” I am doing that. It’s the best thing that has ever happened. I love it.”
The SOAs go through extensive training in the spring to be prepared for the multiple SOAR sessions in the summer.
“I’ve learned a lot of things,” said Williams, a junior secondary education major from Summertown. “I used to be a student admissions counselor. I’ve learned so much about our amazing campus.”
“The most important part of my job is to make sure the students have a great experience and a great welcome to Tech,” said Buntin, a junior from Nashville, who is majoring in accounting and business information technology. “I just enjoy meeting people.”
The SOAs put in long hours during a SOAR session. This summer, sessions began in late May and will continue through the middle of August. So, it’s important that the ambassadors love what they do.
“I love this job and it gives me so much energy,” said Gust, a junior multi-disciplinary studies major from Thompson Station. “This is a dream come true for me. I love making students excited to be here. My love for Tech grows so much by doing this.”
There are three SOAR dates left before the start of the fall semester: Monday, July 22 – Tuesday, July 23; Thursday, July 25 – Friday, July 26; and Thursday, Aug. 15 – Friday, Aug. 16.
For more information about SOAR, go to https://www.tntech.edu/nsfp/soar/index.php.