With the transition to college life comes an abundance of new opportunities and experiences. But leaving home, starting anew, and adjusting to college-level learning may also present challenges for many new students.
The staff of NC State’s New Student Programs devote their professional lives to making the transition to campus as smooth and welcoming as possible. This spring, the exceptional leadership of associate director of New Student Programs Cameron Hill was recognized by the Association for Orientation, Transition and Retention in Higher Education (NODA) when she was named the recipient of the Regional Outstanding Professional Award.
Hill’s background in serving the transitional student population is extensive; during the course of her tenure with New Student Programs, Hill has demonstrated exemplary leadership and an unwavering commitment to welcoming and supporting the individual needs of each student who elects to become part of the Wolfpack family. She has been the driving force behind the development of several key programs targeted to better reach and support students where and as they are, introducing new opportunities to recognize diverse populations and include entire families in the college-going process. Under her guidance, New Student Programs has greatly enhanced the university’s orientation program to include a robust series of initiatives to welcome and inform first-year, international, and transfer students, and their parents. Hill has also driven efforts to increase inclusion and sensitivity practices on campus, integrating awareness and educational training into new student programming. She has collaborated closely with campus partners to realign the university’s Pack Pride program, incorporating issues of critical relevance for the campus community including stereotyping, microaggressions, cultural appropriation, and privilege.
What is perhaps Hill’s most impactful and far-reaching work has been her efforts to extend the reach of New Student Programs beyond orientation and Wolfpack Welcome Week activities to support students throughout the entirety of their first year on campus. Having identified an essential need to provide outreach and services for new students beyond the first few days on campus, New Student Programs has successfully implemented new opportunities such as an alternative service break trip designated for first-year students, a new student job fair, and Pack Connections, a continuation of the well-received peer group discussion program that takes place during student orientation.
Hill was nominated for the award by her colleagues in New Student Programs, including director Michael Coombes. Says Coombes, “We firmly believe that [Hill’s] impact on the transitional success of our incoming students cannot be quantified in institutional statistics, but through the individual stories of students who have utilized these services and programs to connect to NC State and create their own impact on the university they call home.” Hill’s achievement was recognized during the March 10-12 NODA regional annual conference at Georgia Southern University.
Hannah Finkelstein, a graduate assistant for New Student Programs, was also recognized during the conference. She was awarded Best Communication during the conference’s Graduate Student Case Study Competition. The competition is designed to challenge undergraduate and graduate students by applying their experience, training, and critical thinking skills to examine complex issues within the realm of orientation. Teamed in pairs, students work to discern major players, themes, and possible solutions to a case study during a timed presentation. Finkelstein is a first-year graduate student in NC State’s Higher Education Administration program.