Laura Beth Lavette: Welcoming First-Years with Open Arms Meet Laura Beth Lavette ‘17, a senior with a passion for introducing first-year students to W&L.
“Our community is not limited to the confines of campus. Instead, our affection for each other and this school is limitless, extending across the nation and across generations.”
First-Year Olympics, perspective tours, carnival night, ThinkFast game events – as a First Year, the days and hours of Orientation Week come and go in a blur. You’re trying to soak in endless amounts of information and remember countless new names while quickly being ushered from one event to the next and propelled from one “hall bonding” activity to another. Despite the fast pace and packed schedule, W&L’s Orientation Week is unique in that it promotes the fostering of friendships, introduces students to the surrounding Lexington community, and connects First Years to upperclassmen who can offer invaluable advice.
As a freshman, I was unaware of how much effort was invested in making our “O-week” experience the best it could possibly be. The duties of the First-Year Orientation Committee (FYOC) do not end on the first day of classes. In fact, FYOC is composed of a highly involved group of students who work year-round to plan and prepare for the incoming freshmen. With well over 100 members this past year, we organized everything from the Freshman Facebook page to the swing-dancing lessons on campfire night.
During my transition from a First-Year student to a member of FYOC, my enthusiasm for our student body and Lexington’s welcoming community reached novel heights. This newfound enthusiasm pushed me to apply for a more rigorous and involved position in hopes of finding my niche in college. And that I did. As a general co-chair of FYOC, I had the opportunity to become engaged in every detail of the First-Year experience, which reaches far beyond Orientation Week. For two years, I was able to develop leadership, organizational, and communicative skills that I plan to carry with me through the rest of my life endeavors.
As a graduating senior, I do not think my time and energy at this school could have been spent more effectively. Orientation week is a pivotal moment in college students’ lives: You develop your first friendships, choose your first classes, and finally get to explore what it means to be independent. As I became more actively involved in FYOC over the years, rising from a member to co-chair, my appreciation for our school and its traditions seemed to grow infinitely. W&L is a home to so many students and faculty, a place that welcomes each new freshman with open arms. And although I am leaving the comfort of the only school I have known for the past four years, my experiences in FYOC have confirmed that our community is not limited to the confines of campus. Instead, our affection for each other and this school is limitless, extending across the nation and across generations.