Orientation was my gateway into the Student Affairs field, for me like it has been and will be for many other people. This summer I left behind my beloved NC State and took a trip up the mountains to the University of North Carolina (UNC) – Asheville as a National Orientation Director’s Association Intern.
I was nervous, sad, and hopeful about starting my professional journey. There are not a lot of students who have to chance for a NODA experience before starting their graduate program so I felt even more compelled to take the opportunity. I haven’t missed an NC State Orientation in 2 years and seeing them move on with the new staff broke my heart, but it is all a part of transition.
Before coming to Asheville for the Summer I had only been here once as a child and as an adult I see the city in a totally different light. Asheville is the self-proclaimed hippie, liberal, foodie, town of NC and they want to stay that way. I have had the most amazing food of my life here. I was even able to get a bit presidential with a trip to an apparent favorite of the Obama’s 12 Bones Smokehouse (they have a commerative bumper sticker in his honor). I have been having a great time introducing my awesome co-intern to NC staples like Cheerwine and barbecue. Experiencing Downtown Asheville that everyone should have from the Friday night drum circles to the double decker bus the happens to serve coffee it is always a good time. I have also had a chance to do some hiking on the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway and a trip to Dupont State Forest where I visited Triple Falls, a site where they filmed scenes from the Hunger Games.
UNC Asheville has given me a lot and I have had so many chances to learn and grow in the month that I have been here. I have developed really dynamic and meaningful relationships with the staff here including my co-intern and Head Orientation Leader. I feel much more empowered in my role and am able to push my boundaries. I have had such a great time learning from this staff full of women who are role models for how I want my professional career to be led.
My co-intern and I were also given the opportunity to create and help facilitate a multicultural awareness activity that all of the incoming first-year students were able to participate in. It made me fall in love with student affairs all over again. Students opened with their experiences, the orientation leaders grew into being able to have tough conversations, and at the end students said that the session made them feel better about coming to college. There is no greater compliment to me and it was what I plan on working toward for the rest of my life.
Today marks exactly a month since my time at UNC Asheville and I’m sure I will have more to say as my time here comes to a close but wow what a month it has been thus far.
Until next time,