By Kayla Oxford & Bryn Younger, Assistant Editors
People everywhere, including faculty, staff and upperclassmen, helped new students get acquainted with Union.
Some students were taken through to get their post office box or were registered for a sticker to put on their car while others were sent to get their pictures made. Even more students jumped into unloading vehicles and moved things into their new dorms. This was a perfect picture of the start to Union’s orientation weekend, Focus.
Amid a multitude of get-to-know-you games, speakers and new friends, the class of 2015 started their first days at Union. Focus, or freshman orientation, gave these new students the opportunity to grow accustomed with the campus, meet fellow classmates and gain advice from upperclassmen and teachers.
As the newest additions to the Union campus made their way into Focus, many had varying emotions.
“I was really nervous. Union has a huge campus and there are so many people,” said Aly Wachowiak, freshman pre-pharmacy major. “But everyone was super-friendly and Focus helped me meet new people I wouldn’t have met by myself.”
For James Vo, freshman pre-pharmacy major, coming to Union was an entirely new experience, as he is from Malaysia.
“Everything is different. Jackson has a totally different culture,” Vo said. “It’s cool because I’ve met a lot of new friends and found out a lot about college. It’s hard being away from my friends and family, but it’s an exciting experience.”
Focus is not only the orientation for freshmen, but also includes Union’s new transfer students. They may have experienced college life before, but they are in the same boat as the freshmen in learning about Union.
“To me it’s just a great blessing. Everyone has been wonderful, kind, helpful and inviting,” Brittany Thompson, sophomore Christian studies major, said.
Thompson went to the University of Louisville for one semester, but was not happy there.
She spent the next semester at Western Kentucky Community and Technical College before deciding to attend Union. She said she is glad she was lead to Union and had a wonderful experience with Focus and starting classes.
“It is so much different than what I experienced at both the other schools,” Thompson said. “It doesn’t feel like school. It feels like these next three years are going to be just like camp and learning about the Lord through my classes.”
Not all students have as dramatic a change as Vo or Thompson. Anna Coley, freshman elementary education major, is a commuter and lives in Jackson. Though she does not live on campus, Coley said, “Being [at Union] doesn’t feel like I’m in Jackson.”
Coley also said she enjoyed Focus and found it helpful. “The focus show was cool and I like meeting new people,” she said. “It was nice that they put us in groups so we aren’t put in awkward situations.”
Every transfer attends Focus even if they would only be at Union one year.
For example, Kurtis Gallop, senior Spanish major and transfer student from Lakewood, Colo. , said, “After looking at universities in Colorado for a while, I decided I would probably be better at a Christian university for progressing where I needed to be.”
Gallop went to Red Rocks Community College in his hometown, so the transition to Union is a different experience.
“I’m feeling better about it every day that I am here,” Gallops said. He also said he had a great experience with Focus.
“Everybody that I have met so far is just friendly and nice,” Gallop said. “It’s going to be a good learning, growing experience.”
As new students, many had questions about what to expect and do. At a faculty question-and-answer session titled “Heart of the Matter,” professors gave new students advice on how to successfully conquer their time at Union. Advice varied from getting enough sleep to reading the assigned material to prioritizing out-of-class activities. “The panel was really helpful and gave me a lot to think about,” Rachel Wukasch, freshman nursing major, said.
As the panel inspired students about the coming days, they also encouraged them to work hard.
“Like anything hard, it’s going to be the most rewarding thing you’ve ever done,” Dr. Joanne Stephenson, professor of psychology, said.