Former new student orientation leader, Le’Asia Gaskin, a fourth-semester sociology and women’s, gender and sexuality studies double major, recalled her adventurous time as an orientation leader for the class of 2022
“I really wanted to continue my leadership experiences that I started in high school,” Gaskin said. “I really love UConn and wanted to learn more about the school itself, things that they don’t teach you in class.”
The application process was lengthy, spanning from mid-October to mid-December, but not hard to complete, Gaskin said.
“First you go to an information session and learn about the program and from there you choose to apply,” Gaskin said. “If your application is accepted, there is a series of interviews that you have to go through and decisions came out for me in December before break, because there’s a class that they have you take in the spring.”
Three phrases that Gaskin uses to describe being an orientation leader are: challenging, fun and having to choose your own attitude.
“It’s challenging to balance personal life with being a leader because I always had to have a smile on my face, and the hours are long… but it was fun,” Gaskin said. “It was fun interacting with the students and seeing the different groups that you get with each different orientation session.”
During the prep course, all orientation leaders go through, they lay out the do’s and don’ts for orientation, something Gaskin recalls well.
“I remember they made it clear we are not supposed to say which classes students should take. We aren’t allowed to talk about which professors were good or bad and which courses were easy or hard,” Gaskin said. “We also aren’t supposed to talk about how everyone drinks in college and parties. They ask that we emphasize late night and sports games because they want everyone to follow the conduct code.”
Gaskin will not be an orientation leader this year, but she chose to continue working with the orientation team and will be part of the parent orientation staff. Parent orientation staff is another one-year program that involves prep before the orientation sessions begin.
“I wish I could be a new student orientation leader again, but you can only do it once, so the next step is parent staff, so I will be doing orientation with the parents that choose to come to orientation with their kids,” Gaskin said.
Gaskin said she was as honest as possible with each of her orientation groups and never lied about her feelings toward UConn.
“I think I told my students everything,” Gaskin said. “I could gauge a vibe based on the group dynamics what was important and what’s not. I think all the big messages I wanted to send, I did.”
Gaskin did not hold back when it came to the realities of college life and the struggles that can be faced.
“I’m the type of person that likes to share my experiences; if I failed a class, I would tell them,” Gaskin said. “There was a class I withdrew from, and that was something I shared so they understood how that process goes from a student’s perspective.”
Being an orientation leader doesn’t separate the leader from their experiences as a student, something that some new students forget, Gaskin said.
“I think it’s important to understand that just because I’m your orientation leader that doesn’t mean I’m better than you or bigger than you,” Gaskin said. “I still am going through the same things as most of them. I was the same age as some of the people there.”
Gaskin felt that honesty was the best way to give new students an inside look to life as a college student.
“I really wanted to emphasize telling my story so that my students felt comfortable with me and really heard a student’s honest perspective,” Gaskin said. “I just wanted to be transparent with every group, and I wanted them to really know what they are getting themselves into.”
Naiela Suleiman is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.