Orientation Leader Represents UNO with Exuberance
by Becky Bohan Brown
Orientation leaders are the "Wal-Mart Greeters" of the university. They interact with students, parents and other campus visitors on a different level than most. Brandi Yosten may look like any other orientation leader seen giving a tour across campus, but she has gone above and beyond what is expected of her position at UNO.
A junior majoring in political science, she is also a member of Student Orientation Leaders Organization (S.O.L.O.) – the organization for UNO orientation leaders. Yosten's orientation duties at UNO began in April, and her first summer of tours is officially under her belt.
Asked why she chose to be an orientation leader, Yosten said it had a lot to do with where she came from. A native of Cedar Rapids, Neb., there were only 16 students in her graduating high school class.
"Coming from a really small town, college was very intimidating at first, but UNO feels like home now," she said. "I made myself get out of my comfort zone and meet people. That's why the orientation position was a perfect opportunity to help me learn to adjust quickly to college life."
During campus tours orientation leaders interact with new students, parents and campus visitors and help them become familiar with campus and available services and resources.
As a member of S.O.L.O., she was able to increase her involvement in UNO student life. Members attend meetings and social activities, conduct fund-raising and participate in regional or annual conferences of the National Orientation Directors Association (NODA). Most recently, Yosten represented S.O.L.O., the university and the UNO Office of New Student Enrollment Services at a NODA Regional V Conference and brought home an award for her participation in a case study competition.
At the Waterloo, Iowa, NODA conference, she was paired with Nolan Hayes from South Dakota State for a case study competition. The duo won Best Communication Skill and Best Overall case study. They were presented with a case study on "New Orientation Leaders: Building Inclusive Community" and asked to analyze the situation and present their findings the next day.
"Nolan and I only had ten minutes to present our findings to the judges," Yosten said. "No one could use props, so it was an even process."
Case studies are hosted at NODA to help students learn more about the field of orientation, transition and retention by meeting students from other institutions. They also provide a place for students to practice their critical thinking and communication skills, and to receive feedback from veteran professionals other than their supervisors.
The winning plaque from the competition now resides on a wall in the Office of New Student Orientation for all to see.
As for the future, Yosten was recently elected vice president of S.O.L.O. and will take on duties related to that position this school year. She is also excited for the next regional NODA conference, which is set for Chicago next spring. She said she will definitely be in attendance.
UNO students who are interested in becoming orientation leaders should contact the Office of New Student Orientation, 111 Eppley Administration Building, or visit the Web at http://www.ses.unomaha.edu/orientation/.
Becky Bohan Brown is assistant director of internal communications at UNO. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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