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UTSA student Carl Willis enjoyed freshman orientation so much that he went back – 30 times.

This past summer was Willis’ second summer as a UTSA Orientation Leader (OL). He was awarded 2014 Freshman Crew Orientation Leader of the Year for his service. The Freshman Crew Orientation Leader of the Year is an annual award given to an orientation staff member who demonstrates outstanding commitment and leadership ability during the summer months.

UTSA OLs are part-time and full-time UTSA students who guide incoming students and their families through their respective orientation sessions. During orientation sessions, the OLs familiarize the students and families with the UTSA campus and its resources while facilitating a smooth and fun transition from high school to college.

The OL application and training process begins several months before the next summer’s orientations. All OLs must complete an upper division leadership course and a two-week intensive training course.

In addition to working at all the orientation programs from May to August, OLs also lead Roadrunner Camp, a camp for new students that promotes UTSA spirit, campus leadership and student involvement.

Willis attributes his drive to become an OL to his “inner passion to be a leader,” his desire to “motivate and lead others in the right direction” and his own freshman orientation leader.

The greatest takeaways from the OL experience, said Willis, are “people skills” and “the satisfaction of knowing that I make a difference.”

“When orientation came around, the serious vibe I was expecting almost disappeared immediately,” said freshman public relations major Samantha Casas. “I loved that we did the important stuff, but also had a lot of fun.”

For many UTSA students, freshman orientation was their first encounter with the campus culture.

“I left orientation feeling more confident than I did before about starting college,” said Casas.

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