The freshmen orientation for the Class of 2021 held multiple events and services for the new residents of Allegheny College this past weekend and within the orientation schedule were events that highlighted some of Allegheny’s traits. Allegheny aspired to exhibit the diversity and uniqueness of each of their students through #What’sYourStory, sharing select stories and experiences to help the newest class of Allegheny transition successfully and positively. #What’s Your Story was held on the second day of orientation, and consisted of a panel of current Allegheny students ranging from different backgrounds and identities, who would share their own stories from their time at Allegheny.
The panel included, Hannah Firestone, ‘19, Brian Hill, ‘19, Rosa Orduno, ‘19, Matt Wild, ‘18 and Dai’Quan Day, ‘20, five Allegheny students with various backgrounds and unique identities. Their stories were a way to highlight the diversity at Allegheny, but also as an opportunity for incoming students to reflect on themselves and their own identities.
Each student on the panel brought a different perceptive and various identities, ranging from different home states to sexual orientation. Of the five students on the panel, most were from the surrounding Meadville area, like Ohio or Pennsylvania, but Rosa Orduno, ‘19, came from Santa Ana, Calif.
“Coming to Allegheny was so different, you can’t find a decent taco here,” Orduno commented.
The transition from home to campus comprised a shock from the panelists, from the culture to the people on the campus, the diversity and culture of the community was what attracted many of them to come to Meadville. Besides community, Allegheny offered a new perspective of who they were and who they could be, along with their own opportunity to explore their identities. A common theme that resonated with them was the ability to be open-minded and to have a willingness to step outside their comfort zones, which had resulted in each of them finding common ground with others in the community.
While the panel was primarily focused on the storytelling of the Allegheny students, they also gave some much needed advice to the freshmen class. Each student on the panel gave their own distinctive advice for the upcoming year weaved through their stories and experiences they shared. The usual advice was given, covering classes, friends and relationships.
“If someone is uncomfortable with who you are or who you want to be, too bad for them,” Day said.
Every piece of advice that they gave cycled back to one specific area, friends and family. It seemed that each one was in agreement on the idea that the friends you have and the friends you will make the first year of college, may not stay your friends by the time you graduate.
“The people in your life will come and go, and that’s okay,” Firestone said.
In their stories, most of the panelists said that their friend groups had drastically changed from their freshman years. However, they concluded that this was a good thing, for without the change, they would have never found their family. A family at college, they said, was one of the keys to some of the best years of your life at college. To find a group of people that could provided a sense of belonging was one of the most rewarding experiences one could gain during college, according to the students.
With #What’sYourStory, Allegheny hoped to show the “true inclusiveness and equity” that they strive for in the community, Associate Director of the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access & Social Justice Center, Darnell Epps said. Epps and the IDEAS Center were in charge of the project, and felt that the event was a powerful and inspiring way to have incoming students reflect on themselves and others within their new community.
Epps also said that the diversity-orientated event was another step in the right direction for the inclusiveness and equity goals of Allegheny, but there was still work to do for full inclusiveness and equity within Allegheny’s community.