Welcome to college: SUNY Fredonia kicks off orientation

Sophomore Jonathan Kobrinsky of Long Island, one of many orientation leaders, began welcoming incoming first year and transfer students on University Parkway at 8 a.m.

Warm sunshine and hot dogs on the grill are usually associated with the end of the school year — not the beginning. However, during Move-In Day on Thursday, a cook-out-style atmosphere outside the Williams Center welcomed first year and transfer students to the start of their educational journey at SUNY Fredonia.

Kathryn and Rebecca Marotta, twins from Long Island, made the long drive across the state together, and were busy getting settled in their dorm.

The pair are suite-mates, along with six other students, who are beginning the school year as freshmen. “We didn’t plan on attending the same college, but it just worked out,” Kathryn explained. “We visited twice before deciding to attend here. Most of my other choices were really expensive — Fredonia was the best value.” Kathryn is looking forward to studying visual arts and her sister, Rebecca, plans to study history and education.

Transfer student Nataleigh Threlkeld, who is pursuing a degree in adolescent education with a math concentration, was pleased with the campus’ welcoming environment. “Everyone has been so helpful here,” she said. “It’s really been a great experience getting unpacked and settled.” Threlkeld transferred from Plattsburgh, and is looking forward to her first experience living in a dorm, as she had lived at home while attending college. She and her grandmother, Laurie Bekeleski of Falconer, arrived on campus at 9 a.m. on Thursday and enjoyed lunch outside the Williams Center later in the day. “There have been so many people here to answer our questions,” she said. “Everyone has been so nice.”

For Jonathan Kobrinsky, a sophomore from Long Island, orientation weekend has been a whirlwind of activity. As an orientation leader, Kobrinsky has been on campus multiple times throughout the summer. On Thursday, he started the day at 8 a.m., greeting drivers and handing out maps to direct students to their dorms. “It’s been a unique opportunity to meet the new students and welcome them to campus.” By 1 p.m., Kobrinsky estimated that hundreds of cars had already traveled down University Parkway, and anticipated many more through the evening hours.

OBSERVER Photos by Mary Heyl First year and transfer students and their families enjoyed lunch outside the Williams Center during move-in day Thursday. The FSA grilled hot dogs all afternoon so that families and students could enjoy a much-needed break after traveling and unloading their cars.

Daniel Tramuta, associate vice president for enrollment services, explained that Move-In Day is a key part of the college’s new-student orientation weekend, which continues through Sunday. “We’re treating new students, first year or transfer, the same. We value you the same, no matter how many credits you have or don’t have. A new student is a new student!”

This year is unique, as SUNY Fredonia is welcoming its largest incoming class ever. “We’ve redesigned orientation this year,” Tramuta explained. “We have over 1,550 new first year and transfer students. 1,200 of them participated this summer in one of our six summer Jump Start programs, which are brand new.” In the past, the college hosted five two-day programs; however, this year, six one-day programs facilitated the “onboarding experience” for new students. During Jump Start, new students navigated financial aid, planned their schedule, enrolled in classes, received their “Fred card” and more.

While the Jump Start days focused on enrollment, Tramuta explained that the mandatory orientation program is “how we acclimate students to the academic community.” Some of the weekend’s activities include academic advising sessions, a campus resource fair, Reed Library tour, a late night breakfast, cultural awareness workshop and an intercultural street festival. The 300 students who did not attend a Jump Start session will complete the necessary enrollment requirements today.

Tramuta credits Director of New Student and Transition Programs Erin Mroczka with the success of the weekend and this summer’s Jump Start days. “She has led this total revamp of the new student transition process to Fredonia…How you start — those first two to three weeks of the semester — are critical to becoming successful. Erin has led this entire shift, and has done an outstanding job in her position over the past several years.”

Orientation weekend concludes with the new student convocation and Go Blue! spirit night on Sunday. Tramuta predicted, “You’re going to see a lot more blue on campus after today.”

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