Welcome to the Summer 2019 FYE Blog!

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I’m Haley Naiser, and I will be an intern in First Year Experience’s office and Coordinator for New Student Communications. I will be managing our office’s social media, and will be posting on here throughout the summer to talk about various topics related to orientation and incoming students. This post will introduce you to our office’s graduate assistants and summer interns.

I’m an incoming second year in our M.Ed. Higher Education Administration program, and my graduate assistantship is in the Dean of Students Office. I am president of two student organizations, Higher Education Student Organization and Graduate Education Association. I’m from Austin, and I did my undergrad in public administration and social work at Texas State University.


Corey Falls – Graduate Assistant

I’m Corey Falls and I’m a Masters of Education student graduating in 2020. Originally I’m from Springfield, PA, and I did my undergrad at Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore. This year, I’m the grad assistant for transition and retention initiatives, which means I get to help plan and organize the events and academic sessions that new students participate in during their first year here. As a former orientation leader myself, orientation week can be a bit overwhelming at first with so many new faces, events, and pieces of information being thrown at you. My advice is to take a deep breath and remember that everyone else is new and in the same boat as you. During your first year, try something new (whether that’s switching up your Cheese Shop order or trying a class at the Rec) you may come to learn something about yourself in the process!


Challen Wellington – Graduate Assistant

Challen Wellington Educational Policy, Planning, and Leadership, May 2020, St. Louis, MO. I am a graduate assistant for New Student Orientation. I help plan fall and spring orientation. Additionally, I coordinate the orientation area directors, whom hire the next year’s orientation aides. My post-graduation plans are a Ph.D. in Education and working in Retention and Transition programming, with special interest in multicultural retention. I was drawn to William and Mary based on the educational history of the institution and it is in my desired professional region. When I was an incoming freshman, orientation helped me get an understanding of campus layout and campus culture. I also appreciated the camaraderie I developed with my orientation leaders. My advice to new students would be to enter your freshman year with an open mind and know that your plan may change and that’s ok.


Alexis Michalos – Coordinator of New Student Welcome Events

Hello!  My name is Alexis Michalos and I am a second-year Masters student pursuing an M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration, with the hope to work in Residence Life at any college that will hire me after I graduate in May 2020.  I arrived to Williamsburg last August from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina after graduating from the University of South Carolina in Columbia; I chose William & Mary for a variety of reasons, including the warm welcome of faculty and staff when I first visited, the flexibility of my program’s curriculum, and the history seeped into the College and Williamsburg (I studied history in undergrad and am glad to continue it despite switching fields).  As one of the graduate interns for First Year Experience this summer, I am tasked with the general workings of the office.  My specific tasks, though, involve coordinating logistics for New Student & Family Welcome Receptions (be on the look out in your email for an upcoming event near your hometown!) and Transfer Welcome Day.  One piece of advice I would give to incoming students is to take breaks.  It is easy to overwhelm yourself with so many opportunities from day one, but you have a few years to get everything done-take your time, try not to overfill your plate, and explore; you never know what new adventures you will encounter by trying something new and out of your comfort zone.  We cannot wait to see you!


Samantha Nussbaum – Graduate Intern

Hello! My name is Sam Nussbaum and I am a graduate student pursing a master’s degree at the School of Education in Higher Education Administration and I’m graduating in May 2020! I grew up in the Northern Virginia but after completing my undergraduate degree here at W&M in History and Classical Studies, Williamsburg is definitely starting to feel like home. At FYE, I am a part time summer graduate intern where I’m helping coordinate some of our signature Orientation Events and planning our new Tribe Live sessions. After graduation, I hope to move somewhere cold (ideally to Maine for the snow!) and work in admissions or career services. I knew that I wanted to come to W&M when I was in fourth grade after visiting for a class field trip because I’ve always loved history and knew I wanted to study in such a historic place! During my senior year at the College, I had no idea what I wanted to do after graduation and found myself at the School of Education’s Open House where I decided to pursue graduate school and spend another two years in the Burg!

If I could offer any advice about Orientation at W&M, it would be to embrace the experience. I met all of my closest friends in my freshman hall and Orientation really helped bring us together. I definitely found the long days overwhelming at times, but Orientation really helped make W&M feel like home. If I could offer one piece of advice to first year students, it would be to remember to take care of yourself and others. Your first year can be stressful at times but small acts of self-care or random acts of kindness towards others can truly change somebody’s day! No one accomplishes anything alone, so ask for help if you need it and be there others when they need an extra hand.

Hali Pregnall – Undergrad Intern
Hali Pregnall, Biology major Marine Science minor, Class of 2020, Hometown: Poughkeepsie,NY
In the office, I am an undergraduate fellow helping prepare for New Student Orientation, Transfer Welcome Day, and other New Student Receptions. I am also focusing on helping to improve how Orientation Aides are trained to facilitate important dialogues following presentations like Making a Tribe Choice and One Tribe Many Stories. I have my own research project that I will be developing over the summer to explore how Orientation programming and messaging surrounding consent and sexual assault impacts the incidence and perception of sexual misconduct on campus. Some topics I am passionate about are the transfer, exchange, host, and non-traditional student experiences and the way inclusive language can impact their experience.
I am unsure of my post-graduation plans besides that I want to be involved in some type of environmental justice and sustainability work, hopefully where I can interact with people and make connections to improve marginalized communities.
What drew me to W&M was the emphasis on personal growth and identity outside of solely academics. The students and faculty I met when I visited made me feel like they were investing in me as a whole person apart from my test scores or transcript. People here truly care and understand what is important to help students thrive and flourish during difficult life transitions.
My orientation experience was overall positive, but I will say that it is an imperfect program that always needs more work to better include people with accessibility needs, visible and invisible disabilities, and a variety life experiences. I made some of my best friends during orientation and it helped foster a culture of care and connectedness in my dorm. My advice for new students, whether they are first-time-in-college-freshman, first-generation college students, transfers, exchange students, international students, veterans, nervous students, or excited students is to keep an open mind. The orientation process may not feel like it is made for you. It may feel trivial or boring or overwhelming. Those are all very valid feelings. It is an intense time. Don’t feel like you have to love it, but make sure you engage with the material presented to you because everything in those five days is meant to help you. Our values as a William & Mary community are to make everyone feel respected, safe, and welcomed. Our school values trust, wellness, healthy relationships, communication, self-reflection, and inclusivity. When you are profusely sweating and not wanting to do any more, just remember that we’re trying to show that you belong here and deserve to have the best experience possible here.

Stay connected with FYE on Social Media!
About W&M FYE:
The Office of First Year Experience is responsible for creating an engaging transition experience where new students, both first-time in college and transfer students, are empowered to optimally thrive at William & Mary.
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