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Even before classes begin next week, more than 200 first-year students at Rochester Institute of Technology have learned a lot—about themselves, the Rochester area and their fellow classmates.
They participated in one of 13 pre-orientation programs that included kayaking, wilderness survival, biking, canoeing, hiking, rock climbing, and in its second year, discovering Rochester.
“We offer the programs because our students don’t often have a chance to experience something totally out of their academic areas,” said Shawna Lusk, director of RIT’s Center for Orientation and Transition. “We want to give them a way to try something new, meet other new students in a small group setting and interact with faculty and staff outside of the classroom. We believe that the pre-orientation programs help new students to acclimate to their new surroundings and get connected to the university before the other students converge on campus—and give them a chance to have fun while doing it.”
Svea Elisha, a photojournalism student from Grand Junction, Colo., was one of eight freshmen to take a whitewater kayak course along the Erie Canal’s Lock 32 in Pittsford.
“It’s fun for an adrenalin junkie like me, and it’s crazy great to be on the water itself,” she said. “It’s good to spend a couple of extra days to settle in, and it is a fun activity to close out the summer.”
Many of the students in the pre-orientation programs say they have already made friends with other students and have been dining together since moving in on Saturday.
Kyle Mellendorf, an engineering technology major from Raleigh, N.C., said he enrolled in a pre-orientation program “because I thought it would be something new. It looked like a lot of fun, and it has been so far.”
Emily Jackson, a computer science major from Duluth, Minn., signed up because “I wanted to move in early and get settled in before the rush hit.”
She was one of about 35 first-year students who spent part of Monday exploring the Strong Museum of Play and Rochester Museum and Science Center. They also volunteered time helping FoodLink and sampled the fare from area restaurants.
Majied LaFleur, a computer engineering technology major from Dallas, said the program “helps me get my feet on the ground and make some friends and discover the City of Rochester.”
They also learned that the Genesee River is one of only a few in the northern hemisphere that flows south to north, that Rochester is the third largest city in New York and was home to luminaries including Susan B. Anthony, Frederick Douglass and George Eastman.