It all starts with a handshake. Well, technically five variations on a handshake.
There’s the standard, then one with a blow-it-up flourish. Next up is early bird shake. Then comes a low five shoulder bump, followed by the lumberjack. And with that exuberant (if slightly awkward) social construct, a bond is forged among the 183 students who make up this year’s Chancellor’s Leadership Corps.
They are the largest group of incoming freshmen in the program’s 36-year history. (Fun fact: The CLC, which equips promising students with the tools to become leaders on campus, in their careers, and in the community, began in 1976 with 15 members. Today, CLC scholars may receive up to $8,000 per year in scholarship aid and must perform 15 hours of community service each semester.)
The handshake musical chairs is just one ice-breaker activity for the group members, all of whom start this fall at UALR and are getting an early taste of college during a two-day orientation.
The CLC schedule includes a slice of campus life — minus the classes, natch. There’s the residence halls, the food, the new friends, the walking the tree-lined sidewalks.
This year is a bit different from others, says CLC Coordinator Nick Steele. For starters, parents get their own orientation.
The orientation has grown to two days, too, so that students can have a full experience. They come away with an insider’s knowledge of UALR as well as their room and roommate for the coming school year.
Mandi Carreiro was one of the many current CLC students on hand to welcome the latest crew to campus. She helped with another of the icebreaker activities that involved getting all of the students to form the outline of Arkansas. Once in that shape, counties were called out, with students from each county clumping together where their county would be for a photo op.
Some, like Pulaski, brought a flood of students, nearly erasing the entire western border of the makeshift Arkansas. Other counties had but one student, which elicited the biggest cheers from the crowd.
By the end of the ice-breakers, students peeled off into their respective academic sessions.
From there, it was on to dinner, the residence halls and a student organization fair that was to go until nearly midnight.
Now that’s a true taste of college!