More than 300 first-time and transfer students joined the Newman family this week, kicking off their collegiate journey at Newman University.
Orientation weekend consisted of moving students into the residence halls, providing pertinent information to parents and students and helping the new students become familiar and comfortable with the campus and its many amenities.
There was also some fun and celebration mixed in, of course.
The weekend started Friday, Aug. 23, with an informational session that parents and students could attend together before separating to take part in individualized sessions to enhance the focus of the day.
For students, that meant meeting up in the Fugate Gymnasium for some interactive and energetic icebreaker activities provided by Playfair.
During the session, students got to know each other a little better through games and activities. One student said even though she felt a little outside of her comfort zone, she was glad for the experience and the chance to meet new friends.
While students were learning more about their newest classmates, parents were talking with a panel of university staff and faculty in the Dugan-Gorges Conference Center.
Important topics such as financial aid, course curriculum, student life, food service on campus and ways for parents to stay engaged with their students and the university were discussed during the session.
Students and their parents were reunited after the lunch hour for an ice cream social, during which they also said “see you soon” as parents were preparing to travel back home.
The next stop for students took them off-campus.
More than 100 first-time students went to the Kansas Leadership Center in downtown Wichita, where they heard from Newman University Student Support Services staff about tools available to help them succeed in their collegiate journey.
Kyle Mazza ’19 addressed the group, too, talking about what he learned during his four years at Newman and what his career experience is like so far.
Dean of Students Christine Schneikart-Luebbe said having Mazza speak was a blessing and she hoped students walked away with powerful insight.
“Listening to him authentically share his journey from Newman and how it prepared him to transform society was very powerful … I think really powerful for all of the students to hear someone who just graduated (and is) already working in his field,” she explained.
“He talked about … leaning in and meeting new people and engaging in new experiences and really just taking advantage of everything that Newman has to offer. And that was really powerful for the students to hear.”
After their time at the center, the students enjoyed social time at one of Wichita’s most popular new eateries, Chicken N Pickle.
Joseph Shepard, director of multicultural engagement and campus life, said spending part of the day in the community was important to him and his fellow staff.
Shepard said, “We really want to showcase not only what Newman University has (to offer) but what Wichita has because we believe that as an institution, we’ve been transforming Wichita since 1933. And so we wanted to take this new student orientation this year in a different direction by making sure that we’re contributing back to Wichita and showing people that we not only love Newman University but we love Wichita as well.”
Orientation weekend activities continued on Saturday with students attending their first Traditions and Transitions class and working on their first service project as Newman students, planting vegetables for a future donation to the local food bank.
Schneikart-Luebbe said the weekend went very well and accomplished what she and her staff had hoped.
“Seeing their enthusiasm and their excitement for starting school … visiting with some of the students and hearing about how today has really helped them feel a part of the Newman community — that’s why we did all of this,” she said. “I think the goal is to ensure that they feel what those of us who are on campus already feel, which is that this is a community of people who are all hoping and praying that they have a positive experience and that they begin their journey with us in the best possible way.”