Integrity, service are cornerstones for lead orientation assistant

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A. Sue Weisler

Matt Figliotti supervises 18 other student volunteers as a lead orientation assistant at this year’s New Student Orientation. He calls participating in the program a “great way to start the year.”

Matt Figliotti is certain to be a welcoming face for this year’s RIT newcomers. For the second consecutive year, Figliotti joins more than 100 other fellow students on the frontline of RIT’s New Student Orientation program as it gets underway Sept. 1.

Orientation assistants, or OAs, work closely with the program coordinators to ensure a successful transition within the campus community for new undergraduate students and their families. OAs put in long hours during the course of the five-day event, but Figliotti doesn’t mind.

“I’d say it’s the most fun you can have working on campus,” he states.

Figliotti developed an affinity for orientation when he arrived on campus two years ago and took part in the program as a freshman. Having grown up in nearby Chili, the mechanical engineering major always expected that he would attend RIT.

“I saw it all the time and I knew it was a good engineering school, and I liked math and science throughout high school.”

His ability to translate that into good grades resulted in an ROTC scholarship, which Figliotti expects will lead him toward a career as an officer in the U.S. Air Force. He recently returned from a month of field training at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama. The sum of his experiences as a cadet has helped Figliotti embrace the core values of the Air Force—integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all that you do.

“I’ve always tried to live with integrity and be as upfront and honest as I can. It definitely reinforces my morals, and I like to think I’m a more responsible person 
because of it.”

One of the aspects of ROTC that Figliotti appreciates most is the opportunity to interact with like-minded individuals who are motivated to excel as both students and cadets.

“A lot of people look at ROTC as something that would prevent you from participating in other campus activities,” he observes, “and I’m pretty sure I’ve proven them wrong.”

Last year, he joined Phi Kappa Tau and now serves as second vice president to his fraternity. He is also the chapter’s chair of risk management.

But for now, Figliotti turns his attention toward a new school year and his responsibilities to New Student Orientation. Organizers of the program were so impressed with Figliotti’s past performance as an OA, they selected him from a competitive field of applicants to serve a “lead” role this year, coordinating activities among many of the program’s other student volunteers.

“Matt is a unique leader, the type that doesn’t come along very often,” says Shawna Lusk, director of New Student Orientation. “He’s well respected by his peers and has already done an outstanding job serving as a supervisor for 18 OAs—many of whom are his age or older—as they’ve worked to form their team. Great things lie ahead for Matt.”

Figliotti most enjoys that orientation allows him to interact with his fellow OAs while meeting a variety of new people. He describes the opportunity to connect with other individuals who share his interests and values as one of the great advantages to attending a larger university.

“I came in here a bit more to myself than I am now. So through ROTC, orientation and joining a fraternity, I’ve definitely come out of my shell a bit. That’s the fun thing about college. You get to refine who you are.”