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New Golden Bears settle in for the season

NSO 2018

On Wednesday, August 15, WVU Tech’s students returned to campus to start the 2018-2019 academic year. But for more than 400 new Golden Bears, it’s already been an exciting few days.

New students have been acclimating to campus life since Sunday. They’ve explored campus. They’ve taken seminars in everything from community values to making smart choices in college. They attended a formal convocation ceremony welcoming them to campus and enjoyed a block party sponsored by United Bank.

“We are thrilled to welcome so many new Golden Bears to the WVU Tech family. New Student Orientation provides students the opportunity to connect to campus resources and other new students, said Associate Dean of Student Development, Candice Stadler.

To wrap up the three-day program, new students spent the day working within the community.

Aaron Harmon is a freshmen electrical engineering major from Princeton, West Virginia. He ultimately wants to work as an engineer in the power industry where he can help people stay connected. On this sunny Tuesday, however, he was glad to be helping out on a smaller scale. He spent his volunteer time working at the Raleigh County Commission on Aging, cleaning the vans the center uses to transport clients. 

"I didn't know this place was here, and it's a good facility. It help you feel more involved in the community to help out and to be a part of it," he said.

Terri Tilley is the Director of Social Services at the Commission. Tilley said that the center serves hundreds of clients each day and offers everything from healthy meals to an exercise facility. 

"Our mission is to help seniors stay out of nursing homes by helping them maintain their independence in the community," she said. 

"This is a place where they can come and be with other people, and that's so important," she said.

On this Tuesday morning, those other people included a group of WVU Tech volunteers, clad in gold t-shirts and armed with cloths and buckets of soapy water. In addition to cleaning the vans, students cleaned windows and wiped down equipment in the center's gym. Then they spent time with the center's clients. They even worked in some dancing.

"It is so great to have young people here. The seniors enjoy having them here. It brightens their day, and to them it's just wonderful that there are young people here," said Tilley.

A few blocks away, freshman forensic investigation major Mikayla Tinchur spent her day of service with a group of students who put together makeshift shelters for feral cats in the region. The shelters will be used by the local organization Operation Underdog.

The Greenbrier County native said that working alongside other new students was eye-opening.

"It helps to connect you to the community. You get to know more people as you work on a project like this," she said.

For her, the day of service was a kind of microcosm of the experience people have in their first days of college.

"I was a little scared at first, but I liked getting to know people. It seems like I’ll have more freedom and that I'll be more independent. It's getting me out of my shell," she said.

For WVU Tech AmeriCorps VISTA Laura Lucas, that’s what the day was all about.

"The students are bonding. They're problem solving. They're really letting their walls down. They're getting to interact with each other, seeing what skills they have and learning a lot about themselves in the process," she said.

Lucas organized the effort. She said students also used the opportunity to connect with people and organizations in the local area. 

"They meet our students and they realize very quickly that Tech is a big family and that this family makes a great neighbor," she said. 

Students worked with the Pine Haven Center shelter, the City of Beckley, Next Generation, One Voice, the Raleigh County Library, Mt. Hope Christian Academy, the School of Harmony, the Women’s Resource Center, the Raleigh County Commission on Aging, the Beckley Dream Center, the House of Worship, Operation Underdog, the Piney Creek Watershed Association, Little Beaver State Park, New River Park and the Central, Fairdale and Sophia Head Start programs.

Volunteers are still logging their hours, and it’s estimated that the tally will top 1,200 hours. That’s a estimated economic impact of more than $26,000.

"These students are making an impact on the community, and as a Beckley girl, that's a big deal to me," said Lucas.

Stadler said that her team could not have done their work without support from a number of WVU Tech departments, and extended her thanks to Athletics, Admissions, University Relations, Facilities Management, Information Technology Services, Campus Police and Dining Services.

Check out local coverage of NSO and the day of service from the Register-Herald and WOAY.

Visit the WVU Tech Flickr page to see photos from the week’s events.