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First years participate in Belles Beginnings at SMC

| Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Over the weekend, Saint Mary’s Class of 2019 participated in Belles Beginnings, the College’s orientation program, to help ease students into college life along with the peer mentoring program.

Student body president Kaitlyn Baker said Belles Beginnings provides students with resources and knowledge to help them move from high school students to college women while giving them the opportunity to meet other first years.

Belles Beginnings commenced Thursday when the newest members of the College moved into their residence halls, Baker said. A matriculation ceremony, small group meetings hosted by Peer Mentors, and the presentation of Sex Signals took place Friday, followed by different presentations regarding campus life, study abroad and other important topics on Saturday. The evening culminated in PlayFair and Domerfest on Saturday night.

“The events throughout the weekend allowed students to meet each other in large group settings to bond as a class and in smaller groups to get to know each other as individuals,” Baker said.

Senior Maranda Pennington works as a peer mentor to first year students. As a mentor, she helps the first-year students transition to the College by offering advice and answering any questions they might have about academics, student life or anything about Saint Mary’s, she said.

Pennington said she hopes students learn that “it’s more than okay to ask questions and feel a little clueless at times.” She also hopes students learned Saint Mary’s students are surrounded by wonderful peers and professors who want to help them become successful women.

“It helps so much [to have a peer mentor] because they’re actually getting a student perspective on everything rather than just being preached at by staff,” Pennington said. “It’s easier for them to relate and talk to someone who has gone through it and is closer to their age. … The first few weeks of college are such a stressful and vulnerable time. Having a peer mentor to support you in any way they can through that process is vital.”

During the weekend, students split their time between their peer mentors and various other programming sessions. With their peer mentors, first years participated in small group discussions and ice breakers to get to know each other, Pennington said.

“Overall, I tried to keep the environment very relaxed because I know how nervous they probably were,” Pennington said. “I’m really excited to show my students why I love Saint Mary’s so much and also help them be successful and happy here.”

First-year student Emily Scott said she wanted to come to the College because of the strong community feeling.

Scott said she “found that you meet new friends more easily when you’re not necessarily looking for friends. They kind of come to you.”

Nina Hartman, also a first year, said she learned more during orientation than she thought she would.

“Not only have I learned important information like how to stay safe and take care of myself, I also learned what the greatness and importance of being a Belle really is through getting to know new classmates during peer mentor meetings, Mass, Domerfest and many more fun activities,” Hartman said.

Hartman said she is excited to join the community at Saint Mary’s.

“Not only is the campus beautiful, but the people here are beautiful as well, inside and out,” Hartman said. “Everybody is so kind and welcoming, which I love. I really can’t imagine myself anywhere else but here for college. The Saint Mary’s community is one that I’ve been wanting to join for a long time now, and I’m ecstatic that I can finally be called a Belle.”

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About Nicole Caratas

Nicole is a senior English Writing and Humanistic Studies double major at Saint Mary's College. Now a senior news writer, she previously served as the Saint Mary's Editor. She was born in real Chicago but grew up in the suburbs, and she currently lives in Opus Hall.

Contact Nicole