The year 2021 has brought many changes to Mercyhurst, one of these changes being Laker Launch Days. For the first time in two years, new student orientation was able to be held in person. This year’s orientation was rebranded as Laker Launch Days.
While all new students had to attend a mandatory summer-long Virtual Orientation experience, new students and their families were also given the option to attend a series of optional Laker Launch Day sessions. Seven in-person Laker Launch Days were offered for students to register on a first-come, first-serve basis. International Student students were also given an option in late August to attend a Laker Launch Day closer to the start of freshman move-in. The virtual orientation consisted of online meetings, discussions, videos, and activities that could be completed at one’s leisure throughout the summer.
On Laker Launch Days, starting from 9 a.m., events for the new students and their families lasted all day until 4:30 p.m. The launch days eventually led up to freshman Move-In Day on Aug. 20 and Aug. 21. Many Mercyhurst offices and departments played a role in helping make the Laker Launch Days a success including the Enrollment team, Marketing office, Academic Support, Parkhurst Dining, Aramark and individual faculty and staff. Executive Director of Campus Involvement, now Assistant VP for Student Life, Sarah Allen, was one of the staff members able to help coordinate, organize and implement the several Laker Launch Days. “We offered seven Laker Launch Days this past summer and limited attendance for each one. Incoming students and their families all raved about the small size and individualized attention given to each day and its attendees,” said Allen. Although the Launch Days mostly consisted of incoming freshmen, all students from traditional, 2-year associate, adult and transfer students were invited to partake in the days. “We had many associate and transfer students also take part in Laker Launch Days,” said Allen.
At Laker Launch Days, new students were able to learn more about their academic career, meet with counselors and advisors to review their fall course schedule and ask questions. In addition, students were able to get their student ID, set up their student bank account and pre-order textbooks. New students were also able to meet some of their future peers, current students, faculty, staff and administrators to discuss college life and Mercyhurst’s campus community.
Intelligence Studies and Criminal Justice junior, Samantha Strom was one of the Laker Leaders who helped guide incoming students through their transition into college throughout New Student Welcome and Laker Launch Days. “I welcomed students into their dorm halls, attended presentations with them, conducted small group sessions to discuss some of what they learned and mingled with them [the incoming students] at the fun MAC/SAC events,” said Strom of her experience with New Student Welcome. “I also got to attend the Day of Service with my small group doing community service as the Bethesda Trinity Center.”
Catherine Segada, sophomore Anthropology major, is another Laker Leader who helped acclimate the incoming students to Mercyhurst. “It’s extremely important for them [the incoming freshmen] to have these orientation days so they can see campus before life gets too hectic. My role was to make sure the incoming class could gain an understanding of what Mercyhurst life is like and show them that Hurst is home,” said Segada.
By the end of orientation, students had their first academic advising session, learned about academic services and support, connected with other students, and were introduced to the world of Mercyhurst among other things. “The Laker Launch Days were a little hectic but extremely fun. I loved being able to show the freshmen around campus, show them the best places to eat and answer any questions they had,” said Segada. “Being a part of Laker Launch Days really makes me feel like Hurst is home, and I am so excited to share that with the new students this year,” said Strom.