Point Park Globe

Pioneer Ambassador program makes changes

Written By Sarah Cronin, For The Globe

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

The Pioneer Ambassador program is looking forward to new changes that are upcoming for the anticipated summer freshmen orientation. The changes in the program will require a need for 55 new Pioneer Ambassadors.

In previous years, the orientation program at Point Park was a full summer program, consisting of four separate orientations during the months of June, July and August. However, this year the Pioneer Ambassador program has decided to eliminate the multiple summer sessions and instead hold a one-week program the week before classes start in August, according to Anne Cassin, the Director of Student Engagement.

“We are finally catching up to the trend that has been going on in the area,” Cassin said. “We’re actually about the last school in an hour radius to move to a one week [orientation] format.”

The one week orientation format will be both beneficial to Pioneer Ambassadors and incoming freshmen.

In previous years, Ambassadors were committed to the program as early as April until the end of August which could have interfered with students’ summer internships. Now the orientation leaders are only committed to the program during the month of August.

As for incoming freshman, the entire class will now be able to experience the orientation as a whole, unlike in previous years where the orientation split the class into different groups over the summer.

However, this new change requires 55 new Pioneer Ambassadors who will be needed to help mentor incoming freshmen, and keep group numbers from becoming too overwhelming for both the Ambassadors themselves and the freshmen.

“[The Ambassadors] are going to be the ones that are directly working with the students and families and running through the whole orientation program with the students,” Pioneer Ambassador Coordinator Shelby Fink said.

Fink is a sophomore sports, arts and entertainment management major, and was an orientation leader last year.

“That’s why we need so many because we’re having the entire freshman class come in at once, and we don’t want to overwhelm one Pioneer Ambassador with a whole bunch of students,” Fink said. “That’s why we have so many positions so we can make them all equal.”

“It’s so different this year because we’re hiring over triple of what our current staff was last year,” Jocelyn Bankson said.

Bankson is a sophomore sports, arts and entertainment management major who was a Pioneer Ambassador last year, and is now a Pioneer Ambassador Coordinator.

“But honestly I’m so excited for what’s to change in the one week program because I know that we’ve been trying to get this change for a while now so to actually have the people to change it and bring that to the university is really exciting,” Bankson said.

According to Bankson, the new orientation program will be a mix of old orientation traditions with new and exciting events that will help freshman feel welcomed and excited about the upcoming school year.

The first two days of the week long orientation are the designated move-in days for first year students. There will be brief welcomes on Tuesday and Wednesday, but the big kickoff programming will begin Wednesday afternoon with residential floor meetings, according to Cassin.

“I’m excited for the speakers we have coming in,” Cassin said. “We for sure have our opening keynote speaker, and he’s sort of one of the top high school collegiate speakers in the country.”

The program also plans on having light-hearted events.

“We’re working on securing a hypnotist, and we even have a group coming in where they do large-scale ice breakers, so we’re going to go off campus to do that,” Cassin said.

The Pioneer Ambassador program is encouraging students around campus to apply for the position of Pioneer Ambassador. Becoming part of the program also comes with benefits.

Pioneer Ambassadors are able to move in as early as August 6th and will receive a $175 stipend, something that is hard to come by at other local universities who have traditional orientation leader level positions. Ambassadors will also be able to go on a weekend retreat and receive Point Park merchandise according to Cassin.

Cassin is also encouraging commuters to apply for the Pioneer Ambassador position as well. The program will be offering hotel rooms for commuters who live off campus, or those who have more than a 10 to 15 minute walk from campus to home.

“We want to ensure everyone’s safety and I don’t want anyone driving while they’re sleepy or to have anyone walk too far when it’s really dark out,” Cassin said. “We do have a lot of commuter students, so I do want them to represented on the team.”

Orientation leaders often have a lasting impact and impression on incoming freshmen, and are able to learn important life skills such as the importance of leadership and responsibility.

“I was able to be the one person that [freshman] knew automatically at Point Park,” Fink said. “Coming to college is really scary, so having that person that you know who is there for you and is completely willing to help you through anything makes it a little bit easier.”

Fink also recognizes the importance of the orientation process.

“Orientation is such a big memory that everyone carries with them if you go to it,” Fink said. “It’d be impossible to hold orientation without the Pioneer Ambassador team.”

Cassin believes that having current students as mentors is beneficial to incoming students.

“Having that person there to mentor the student and be that connection is much easier for someone who has just gone through it to make that connection than it is for a faculty member or a staff member,” Cassin said.

Cassin also believes that a mentor relationship can help students who may be anxious about starting college.

“It makes the students feel more comfortable and that’s obviously what we want,” Cassin said. “We want them to feel welcome and at home, and ready to take on all of the challenges that comes with being a college student.”

The second round of Pioneer Ambassador applications will be closing on February 14th, and will reopen again with other group interview dates which are projected to take place on February 18th for a third round. The applications will be kept open during and after spring break and will be closing on March 9th, according to Cassin.

“We had some really great candidates apply so far, and I know we have a lot more great candidates on campus who haven’t applied just yet so I think maybe it’s just getting the word out a little bit more,” Cassin said.

Even though finding 55 new applicants can be overwhelming for the current program’s members, the new orientation format will be very beneficial for the university’s future.

“It is a lot of work but it’s also really rewarding because I’m watching all of the campus come together as we’re making this transition,” Cassin said.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Leave a Comment

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.