Week of Welcome encourages engagement among students

Students participate in events during first week of classes

Hannah Murray, Staff Writer

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.— The first week of classes often brings feelings of stress and homesickness to students.

However, thanks to Week of Welcome, students can now drop their fears off at the campus gates.

Week of Welcome transforms the first week of school into seven days of activities and events for students to participate in.

“Week of Welcome is an opportunity for students to meet their new peers in a new environment,” said Melanie Marshall, the director of Student Involvement. “It is designed to give students events and programs that will encourage them to meet new people, challenge themselves to step outside their comfort zone, and become more familiar with our campus.”

The Week of Welcome is especially beneficial to first year students, who are in a new environment and faced with the task of adjusting to college life.

“I think Week of Welcome is great for first years because it gets them out of their room and gets them involved from day one,” said Katie Tillis, a Resident Adviser in Williams Hall. “A lot of first years, in my experience, get a little homesick in the first few weeks. But with Week of Welcome, there is almost always something to keep them involved and making friends.”

This year’s Week of Welcome included activities such as escape rooms, a multicultural student mixer,  a hypnotist show, a pool party, a Jumpo Shrimp game, and more. The theme for this year’s Week of Welcome was “Meet the Challenge.”

“Many students are facing immense amounts of change during this first week—living somewhere new, living with a roommate or two, managing their own time and schedule, feeding themselves, and even doing laundry,” said Marshall. “These things can be very difficult for students all at once and we wanted to create a theme for students to ‘meet the challenge.’ Having them recognize that they can rise to the occasion and accomplish their goal of graduating from college was an important message we wanted to send to our first year students.”

First year student Tatum Profitt says that even though she already knew a few students, Week of Welcome provided a way to branch out and connect with other students.

“It’s something most people should go to,” she said. “Even if you aren’t a freshman, going to it is nice. You can connect with people and make new friends.”

No matter your year, major, or interests, chances are that Week of Welcome has something for you.

For Profitt, the event that stood out to her the most was the Jumbo Shrimp game.

“I’ve always been a fan of baseball, but I’ve never been able to go to a game outside of high school,” she said. “So being able to have experiences I wouldn’t normally have, whether I was at home or somewhere else, was nice.”

Even Marshall has a favorite part of Week of Welcome.

“I love seeing students trying something new,” she said. “We provided the opportunity for students to do escape rooms this year and watching students’ faces after they left the room and the joy they felt for accomplishing the puzzles with a group of new friends is priceless.  Seeing the friendships beginning to form and the awkwardness fading away by the end of the week is certainly my favorite.”

Anyone who has been a part of Jacksonville University for long knows the emphasis placed on community. Week of Welcome fits nicely among JU’s efforts to make the university a home-away-from-home.

“It is very important for first-year students to connect with the university early,” said Marshall. “By providing them the opportunity to meet someone other than their roommate or teammate, university staff and administration, or current upper-class students they can feel instantly connected to the family of JU.”