Owl Expedition experience helps new students make connections
KENNESAW, Ga. (Aug 16, 2019) — In 2013, two students came up with an idea. They wanted to run an extended orientation camp for incoming students run by students. After approaching the dean of students with their idea, Owl Expedition was born. From there, Orientation and Transitions programs at Kennesaw State University, helped these students bring the first camp to life in 2014.
Owl Expedition allows first-time, first-year and transfer students to Kennesaw State
University to experience an extended orientation that takes place over four days and
three nights in a camp-like environment off campus. Since it began, the program has
grown from 20 students attending each year to more than 200.
“Owl Expedition is unique in that it is run by students, for students,” said Donald Coleman, director of Orientation and Transitions programs. “Our student leaders put together the programs and run the show. They understand better than anyone what helps new students find their home at KSU.”
Owl Expedition is operated by multiple flight crew leaders, who lead groups of incoming students. The flight crew leaders and the activities and logistics for the camp are overseen by three student directors.
This year’s three student directors, Vanessa Benitez, Amanda Norris and Isaiah Jones, have all been flight crew leaders before and bring that experience, as well as a love for KSU, into everything they do for the Owl Expedition experience. The group is able to make changes to help the camp keep growing, while helping new students build relationships before the semester begins. The groups created during the camp will continue to meet up through the school year to give a support network to all of the attendees.
Benitez views her role as one of the directors as a way of giving back to a program that did so much for her. “I stayed at KSU because of the experiences I had at Owl Expedition when I attended it,” she said. “Now I get to help do that for other people.” She’s excited about the opportunity to give students the chance to find friends and build connections.
Norris credits the Owl Expedition program with helping her find her confidence. “This program broke me out of my shell and built my confidence up,” Norris said. The chance to share that experience and help other students break out of their shells inspires her.
Traditionally, Owl Expedition has been held over the summer, but this year the student leaders decided it would be better if took it place immediately before the semester begins.
“We found that when we had camps in July, there was just too much time between Owl Expedition and the start of the year,” said Isaiah Jones, a student director. “People lost touch in that time, so we wanted to get it right up against the beginning of the semester in hopes that it will help forge better connections between the students.”
Activities over the four days include a field day, campfires, slip and slides, rope courses and plenty of opportunities to learn about what it means to be a part of the Owl Nation.
Photography by Jason Getz
A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 41,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the second-largest university in the state. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 126 countries across the globe. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.