Baylor Welcomes New Students to Campus Aug. 17-20

Aug. 16, 2006

by Paige Patton, news and information coordinator, (254) 710-3321

"Welcome to Baylor. We're glad you are here."

Hundreds of incoming Baylor University freshmen and their families are likely to hear that phrase numerous times in the coming days as the students move to campus and participate in Welcome Week activities.

"As always, the heart and character of Welcome Week is to welcome students into the heart of the Baylor community and to aid in the transition to college," said Keane Tarbell, coordinator for new student programs.

Because the transition to college can be overwhelming and intimidating, Welcome Week activities "celebrate the beginning of the Baylor experience" and are designed to integrate students into small groups led by upper level students.

Tarbell said Welcome Week will utilize about 275 volunteers who are "pumped and excited for the journey of the week."

The "journey" includes four days full of activities that will introduce new students to life at Baylor. Students will be encouraged to grow physically, intellectually, socially and spiritually--the four aspects of the Welcome Week Wheel.

Move-in day is the major activity planned for Thursday. Following move-in, the President's Picnic will take place on the Burleson Quadrangle from 6 to 7 p.m. Dinner will be served to all students and President John M. Lilley will welcome everyone to Baylor. From 8 to 9 p.m., small groups will meet and participate in a "plethora of activities" so students can meet other new and current students.

Friday starts at 10 a.m. with Kick-Off and Convocation, a celebration of everything that makes Baylor special. Beginning at 2 p.m., students will be introduced to their faculty-led University 1000 groups, with whom they will meet each Friday for the first six weeks of the semester. Departments across campus will host an open house from 3 to 5 p.m. for interested students to meet with faculty in their desired fields of study. From 5 to 7 p.m., faculty will host small groups for dinner in their homes. The night ends with a huge spirit rally at 8:30 to introduce all new students to the spirit and traditions at Baylor.

Saturday starts off with a vital tradition at Baylor--service. Through the FirStep program (known during the rest of the year as Steppin' Out), new students will have the chance to go into the Waco community and serve others from 8:30 a.m. to noon. A celebration of service will be held from noon to 2 p.m. and will include a church fair, where many churches from the Waco area will provide information to interested students. Saturday concludes with the Big Event from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m., called "BU at the Pier." Tarbell describes it as "a carnival of events designed to make students feel they are on the Santa Monica pier." The event will take place at Bear Park (the field next to the South Russell residence hall) and will feature thematic carnival food, games and live music representative of an ocean atmosphere.

Sunday begins with the chance to visit local churches and ends with the Candlelight Ceremony, a long-standing Welcome Week tradition, at 7:15 p.m. After a worship service in the Ferrell Center, students holding candles will process to the marina where they will "congregate as a class, reflecting on where they've been and think about what lies ahead," said Tarbell.

Another aspect of Welcome Week is the Class of 2010 Challenge. This essay contest, offered to students the summer before their arrival at Baylor, challenged them to write an essay that would "inspire you and your classmates about what the Baylor experience can mean to you, what you hope happens in your lives over the next four years, what discoveries you hope to make, how you hope to be changed by this journey," according to the Welcome Week website. This year's winner is Faith Ann Wardlaw of Richmond, Tex. She will present her essay at Friday morning's Kick-Off and Convocation. As winner, she will have her required textbooks provided for the first year of college and will be given a senior ring by the Baylor University Alumni Association when she is eligible.

Tarbell said he believes that the Welcome Week activities will "touch all new students at some point during the week." His hope for Welcome Week is that all new students "feel that they are loved and welcomed into our community, excited for their adventures, prepared for what it means to be a student in pursuit of knowledge and equipped to get plugged in at Baylor."

And of course, glad that they are here.

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