New NCCU students arrive, participate in campus welcome week

Aug. 09, 2013 @ 03:33 PM

The organizers involved with N.C. Central University’s Week of Welcome have spent the entire summer planning for the 1,700 new students arriving on campus early Saturday morning.

The Week of Welcome, a list of nearly 30 events that encourage new students to meet people outside their residence halls, has become a mandatory NCCU program this year.

Or “mandatory fun,” as the organizers like to say.

On Sunday, students will participate in a Tweetup, where they’ll meet the students in person that they’ve been tweeting all summer long. The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Ally ice cream social on Monday will let students gorge on Ben & Jerry’s cookies and cream ice cream in an inclusive environment. Thursday, NCCU will shut down the Renaissance Parkway Target, where students can shop after official closing time to the bass of a live DJ and win free stuff.

There will be a talent fair that will showcase NCCU student singers. There will be a service fair that highlights local community service opportunities. The theme this year is “Your Passport to the World,” which is meant to get students thinking about internships and study abroad programs.

“A Week of Welcome to me is a week of networking,” said Jerel McDaniel, a 19-year-old NCCU criminal justice junior. He is part of Eagle CORE, which helps the university with new-student orientation.

McDaniel said he was shy when he arrived at NCCU in 2011, but Week of Welcome was his outlet to splurge at Target and connect with people at unconventional icebreakers.

“It really gets you out of your comfort zone,” McDaniel said. “A lot of these things make you break out of your shell.”

Brianna Nichols, a 21-year-old NCCU political science senior, said helping out with Week of Welcome has been her favorite student job.

“This will be my last Week of Welcome,” Nichols said. “I might cry.”

She said the school didn’t offer such welcome programs when she arrived as a freshman in 2010, but they would have put her class on the right academic path from the start.

“I feel the retention rate of my class would have been a lot better,” Nichols said. “(Students) really don’t have any excuses anymore. They know what to do or not to do.”

Jason Cottrell, NCCU’s associate director of new student services, and Chimi Boyd-Keyes, the director of the NCCU Women’s Center, have helped put the week of programming together.

Cottrell said he enjoys witnessing the student transformation between August and next May.

“The energy that students bring, they’re pumped, they’re excited, nervous, but I think it renews our energy,” Boyd-Keyes said. “It’s one of their first impressions so we want them to feel good about where they’re going.”