Preparation for Orientation 2020 is already underway with the appointment of Garrett Downs ’22 and Lalaine Vergara ’21 to the positions of Orientation Coordinators. The pair will spend the summer planning activities and sessions for Orientation Weekend that are designed to introduce the Colleges’ newest members to campus.
“I want to show the Classes of 2024 the reasons why I fell in love with HWS. When I took my first tour of campus, the energy and environment just made me happy,” says Downs, from Attica, N.Y., who transferred to the Colleges last year. Downs’ goal for Orientation Weekend is to recreate that same feeling for the incoming classes.
Vergara is also committed to creating an energetic and inclusive Orientation Weekend. “I remember what it is like to be a first year trying to navigate a whole new environment,” she says. From the San Gabriel Valley in Los Angeles County, Calif., Vergara says she never imagined herself going to an undergraduate institution in a place that experienced all four seasons. Ultimately, Vergara decided to step outside of her comfort zone and attend a college on the other side of the country.
Despite being home due to the Covid-19 outbreak, neither Downs nor Vergara are sidelining the Orientation planning process. The pair have begun discussing how to implement a vlog series on campus programs, residential life and more. Members of the incoming classes can already connect with them on the official Classes of 2024 Facebook page.
Both Orientation Coordinators are eager to share their favorite parts of Orientation with the Classes of 2024. Downs says he can’t wait for students to fill the Smith Opera House in downtown Geneva for the Variety Show. The event includes performances from the Colleges’ a cappella groups, dance clubs and other talents. And Vergara is eager for students to make their first stop of Orientation Weekend: at the Quad. There, students will have the opportunity to meet President Joyce P. Jacobsen in the same spot where they will receive their diplomas four years later.
“From the first time they set foot on campus, I hope that they’ll feel like they have made the right decision in making HWS their new home,” Vergara says.
A biology major and minor in social health and inequalities, Downs is on the pre-med track. While he is deciding between continuing studies at the doctorate level in osteopathic medicine or a six-year registered nurse to nurse practitioner program, he knows he wants to work in pediatrics, caring for children and supporting children’s health initiatives.
On campus, Downs is a member of the dance group Hip~Notiq’s and a cappella group Hobartones. He helped establish a Dance Marathon Club to raise funds for neonatal intensive care units at Golisano Children’s Hospital in Rochester, N.Y.
At HWS, Vergara says she feels empowered to continue to try new things – including enrolling in “Principles of Economics” with Associate Professor of Economics Keoka Grayson. “The actual topic came to me so easily, and to think it was a department that I immediately would have not looked into as an incoming first-year,” says Vergara, an economics major with minors in media and society and American studies. On campus, she is the treasurer of Theta Phi Alpha and the Campus Activities Board. She works in the Office of Admissions. Last summer, she completed research with Associate Professor of American Studies Beth Belanger.