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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Upperclassmen reflect on beginnings

Photo by Elena Fiegen
Xavier Cole, vice president for student affairs, and Mikey Wilson, senior in the College of Nursing, lead Bingo at orientation.

Jack Susla, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences, and Mikey Wilson, a senior in the College of Nursing, attended New Student Orientation this weekend for the fourth time.

As Orientation leaders — otherwise known as O-Staff — Susla and Wilson had the opportunity to share their experiences and offer guidance to students for the past three years. Members of O-Staff since their sophomore year, Susla and Wilson now have student director roles: Susla is the student director of marketing and media for new student and family programs, and Wilson is the student director for family experience.

As Susla and Wilson kicked off their senior year welcoming more than 2,000 new students,  the duo remembered their starts to freshman year and the growth they experienced that led them to today.

The two met on the second day of freshman Orientation. On the seventh floor of Abbottsford Hall, they developed a group of friends that has stayed together ever since. Both Susla and Wilson have current roommates who they met on that freshman floor. Of that group of friends, about eight were on O-Staff this year, Susla said.

“I came from Rhode Island, (and) I didn’t know a single person at Marquette,” Susla said. “I did random roommates. I really just kind of threw myself into the fire.”

Susla’s orientation leader had a large impact on his freshman experience, inspiring him to apply to join O-Staff himself, he said.

“He was someone I looked up to right away, and I talked to him a lot about his involvement,” Susla said. “He recommended O-Staff.”

Susla said he wanted to have as positive an impact on incoming students as his own Orientation leader had on him.

Wilson said he also knew he wanted to be a leader for new students early on. He recalled getting excited for Orientation after hearing about his triplet brothers’ experiences at the freshman orientations for their respective universities.

“As soon as Orientation happened, I just wanted to … get involved in any way I could,” Wilson said. “(Orientation) is what you put into it. … If you put in a lot, you’re going to get a lot out of it, and you’re going to meet all these new people and have all these new experiences.”

Wilson volunteered for Family Weekend through new student and family programs his freshman year. He then became a SPARK and Orientation leader that following summer before his sophomore year.

Wilson reflected on his and Susla’s progression of leadership through O-Staff.

“Our first year, we were learning from all the returners, and then last year we had the opportunity to be (those) returners … so we could teach the new leaders,” Wilson said. “And now this year we had the opportunity to hire a staff that we think would do the best job that they could to have an impact on our students.”

Witnessing the arrival of new students also brought back memories for upperclassmen uninvolved with Orientation.

Molly Wade, a junior in the College of Communication, recalled her feelings when she first moved to campus two years ago.

“Before moving in, I was kind of nervous,” Wade said. “I mean, who isn’t? You’re getting away from your comfort zone and everything.”

While her transition to college did require an adjustment period, Wade said it was not particularly difficult. She attributed her relative ease with adapting to her home life, where she has three older brothers and grew up learning to be flexible while living in a big family.

Wade said her last two years have been full of growth. Wade spent her freshman year in the College of Nursing before switching to the College of Communication. She said she feels like she is more easygoing and comfortable with her life at Marquette now than she was her freshman year.

“(Freshman year) I started packing for college, like, literally two weeks before,” Wade said. “And I think that I probably packed, like, six hours before I packed up the car, this time around. … I’m definitely more go-with-the-flow.”

Certain moments from freshman year stick out to Wade, such as leaving the freshman Orientation square dance to watch “The Office” with her new roommates in Cobeen. She said she felt a moment of realization that “it’s all going to work out,” while studying outside with friends for finals during one of the first nice days of May.

For many students like Wade, the growth from being uncertain freshmen to confident upperclassmen and leaders on campus is full of ups and downs.

Susla and Wade said new students should allow themselves to be open to new experiences.

“Our goal is to just open as many doors as possible for (new students) and not close anything,” Susla said. “This campus is here for you.

It is normal to be unsure of the future as a college student, Wade said.

“I think it’s difficult to expect an 18-year-old to know what they want to do the rest of their life,” Wade said. “I think that, if you take a couple classes, or you get an internship, or you get more involved and you’re like, ‘Maybe I don’t want to do this,’ it’s okay. … It’s totally fine to change your mind.”

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