| by Gerry Boyle '78

Slideshow: Orientation 2014

Following a week of orientation activities that included First Class (sessions with professors to set the tone for academic dialogue), Colby Outdoor Orientation Trips (from canoeing to theater improv), and community service, President David A. Greene addressed assembled first-year students at Colby’s 197th First-Year Convocation in Lorimer Chapel Sept. 2. “It’s time to try something new: take the kind of real intellectual risks that require willingness to fail.

“That can be hard,” Greene said, “when the path to success has been so well illuminated for you for so long. Yet each of you has the potential to be so much more than another high achiever.”

The members of the Class of 2018, he said, can be the ones who make groundbreaking discoveries, who reshape fields of knowledge and change institutions and societies. But that level of accomplishment, not just continued achievement, requires “your vulnerability, your openness to criticism, your willingness to continually reassess your own convictions,” he said.

The thrust of orientation was the intellectual opportunity offered at Colby through the extraordinary faculty—scholars marked by “the deep commitment they have made to awakening in Colby students new ways of understanding the world, of approaching problems, contributing to knowledge and humanity and social justice,” Greene said.

He introduced Margaret McFadden, associate professor of American Studies and the Christian A. Johnson Associate Professor of Integrative Liberal Learning, who gave the convocation address.

McFadden, who studies popular culture, walked new students through a litany of pop culture statistics and facts (the seven hours per day the average American child spends in front of a screen; the roots of zombie culture in religion practiced by West African slaves in Haiti) and challenged students who think they can pop in and out of this stream without being affected by it.

“Whether we know it or not,” McFadden said, “we act in ways that often reflect the distorted messages we’ve absorbed from popular culture.” Racial and ethnic stereotypes, pervasive messages about body image—it is all contained in the media that many of us love, she said.

She also acknowledged that some students might be thinking, “Oh, that professor is just reading into things and seeing things that aren’t there.” On the contrary, “You might not know what you think you know,” McFadden said. “So keep an open mind. Remain curious and uncertain and engaged. If I’ve bugged you, we’re on the right track.”

Student Orientation Leaders

Samantha Boudeau ’16
Port-au-Prince, Haiti | United World College of Costa Rica
Major: Biology-Neuroscience
Minors: Philosophy, Education

Samantha-Boudeau-01Samantha Boudeau ’16 says her Colby experience has been nothing like she hoped it would be—it’s been “so much better,” and she’s passionate about sharing that experience with others. After being wowed by her Colby orientation two years ago, Boudeau decided to get involved in the planning process. This summer she focused her efforts on Colby Community Involvement Day (C2IT), the annual event when first-year students engage in community service in the Waterville area and learn about volunteer opportunities. Instrumental in coordinating the Aug. 28 event with local nonprofits, Boudeau has also had the opportunity to connect with new students and parents and assuage fears. “During the summer we get a lot of calls from concerned parents and students,” she said, “and it’s when I am able to tell them that I can relate, that I have been there, but now I’m okay. I think they can sense the sincerity, and it helps.”

Bridget Olsen ’15
Eliot, Maine | Marshwood High School
Major: Global Studies
Minor: Economics

Bridget-OlsenBridget Olsen ’15 loves helping others, and since struggling to find her niche during her first semester at Colby, she’s developed a particular penchant for supporting students as they adjust to college life. An area resident director (ARD), she is a supervisor to the community advisors (CAs) who serve as mentors and mediators for students in their residence halls. This summer she helped train CAs on such topics as conversation facilitation, programming, and diversity to ensure that they’re ready to foster a safe and accepting community. “I see my role as the CA for the CAs,” Olsen said. “I want to make sure they are taking care of themselves as well as the first-years. … I love that as orientation leaders we get to set the tone of how the Colby community is, which in my mind is accepting, inclusive, caring, and a little crazy.”

Billy Parker ’16
Methuen, Mass. | Methuen High School
Major: Mathematics-Statistics

Billy-Parker_01After feeling the stress of managing academics, athletics, orientation, and the adjustment to a new environment during his first fall at Colby, Billy Parker ’16 wanted to help ease the transition for future first-year students. A summer working in the Office of Campus Life allowed him to do just that. After organizing roommate pairings during the first half of the summer, Parker worked with Assistant Director of Campus Life Sam Helm ’12 to create orientation and fall programming including Welcome Week Promotion, a partnership with area restaurants that gives students discounts Sept. 3-6. As a community advisor, he also helped first-years move into residence halls and serves as a mentor, facilitator, and general contact person. “Orientation,” he said, “is the best part of the year. The energy level is through the roof, and everyone seems to share the same excitement, fears, and questions. It is great to see 480 plus classmates come together for the first of many times.”

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