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Orientation Student Coordinator Maura Herron Welcomes New Students

Paige Roberts
Graduate Assistant, Marketing & Communications

Maura Herron feature

This summer’s new student orientation thankfully looks different than last year’s program. As an orientation student coordinator for both years, Maura Herron, C’22, has first-hand knowledge of the challenges in 2020 of introducing new students to their university in the midst of a pandemic. She also appreciates the increased personal touch in 2021. Maura fulfills a crucial role that guides new Mounties on transitioning into college life, preparing them for their first semester and acquainting them with the abundance of opportunities to get involved on campus.

maura-herron-in-text.jpgHerron also knows plenty about getting involved. She volunteers in admissions as a Mount Ambassador and tour guide, as well as in alumni engagement where she has been involved in Phone-a-thon, a fundraising event held each year. Talking to students is undoubtedly one of her strengths as she often interacts with former, current and prospective students. “It’s such a solutions-oriented position, all of them, and I feel like I have a really good understanding of what goes on and what we need,” said Herron.

Her duties as an orientation student coordinator range from answering phone calls and emails responding to parent or student questions in the weeks leading up to orientation, to running the events, public speaking, and working closely with orientation leaders during orientation days. Meetings are held weekly with open discussion, and various training sessions are being held for student orientation leaders, including an impactful session on microaggressions with Shahanaaz Soumah, C’22, a Student Life worker this summer. “Orientation is the starting point,” said Herron when asking herself and her orientation leaders, “What can the Mount do?” Alongside fellow student coordinator, Asia Yates, the pair are instrumental in guaranteeing a smooth and safe implementation of all orientation events and timelines.

Last summer, she recalls watching the breaking news broadcasts alongside other orientation staff and facing daily challenges to adapt orientation plans as the pandemic worsened and fear increased amongst everyone. “We persevered and for the circumstances I think we did a really great job, and we did get a lot of positive feedback,” Herron stated. Incoming students attending the socially-distanced event were limited to bringing one guest last year, which was unfortunate for families who were eager to learn more about their student’s new mountain home. This year, the Mount held six separate orientations in order to safely stagger the number of students and their families to allow for a more personal and comprehensive experience. “This year feels more in-tune with what the Mount wants it to be,” she assured.

Majoring in both sociology and criminal justice, Herron is a rising senior. She originally had her heart set on going to college in Manhattan, growing up in New Jersey only 40 minutes from the city. Knowing she wanted small class sizes and the opportunity to form close relationships, she chose the Mount to get away from the congestion of her hometown, lured by the campus’ rural location and quiet feel. “I never even took a tour! But it paid off,” Herron said.

Her favorite thing about the Mount is the people. “I feel so embedded in the community, and some of that might come from the fact that I’m involved in a lot of things, but I also feel like the people made it easier to get involved,” she shared. Herron found it incredibly easy to make friends and quickly fell in love with the dynamic of a small university. The Mount’s size allowed her to find passion and meaning in her positions on campus. “When I give a prospective student a tour and I send them a postcard and then I see them later on…I know them, I’ve talked to their parents, and that drives me because now I know these people, and I want to make orientation really enjoyable because of that,” Herron said.

As one of the first friendly faces that new students meet, her best advice to incoming freshmen is “to care less about what people think of you.” She reflected on the silliness of overthinking every single move she made during her first few months at the Mount with the concern that she would make the wrong impression. Her advice is most definitely applicable and her initial struggles are relatable to any new student worried about what to do with their arms when walking into Patriot. “There’s so much else I could’ve been putting my time and energy into,” Herron reflected.

Graduating a semester early, she is debating options for her future. “I like too many things, that’s the issue,” she joked. She is mulling over the idea of applying to the Mount’s newly introduced applied behavior analysis graduate program and seeking a graduate assistant position on campus, but also interested in working in the intelligence analysis field. Given the fulfillment that she derives from her work on campus, working in higher education in the future would suit her well, she thinks. Confident about her future, she said “if we can make it through orientation in a pandemic, I think I can make it through anything.”

Paige Roberts
Graduate Assistant, Marketing & Communications