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Ram Welcome leaders enhance the 1st-year experience

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Collegian | John Eisele/Colorado State Unive
Courtesy photo

For many new Colorado State University students, the transition into college can be marred with anxiety and nerves over the reality of living alone for the first time. Most students have only had small doses of the CSU experience until their summer orientation session, when they are greeted by friendly and approachable returning CSU students to help introduce them to campus through activities and bonding events over the course of two days.

Ram Welcome, a staple week for incoming CSU first-years, builds on that summer orientation experience. A week packed full of activities, events and opportunities for new students to build community and new connections, Ram Welcome is shepherded and guided by the Ram Welcome leaders — volunteer students who give up a week of their summer to welcome the newest Rams to campus.

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“The Ram Welcome experience is important because it really helps in the initial transition to college life,” wrote Rubyann Bates, a fourth-year CSU student returning to be a Ram Welcome leader for the second year. “That first week can be really hard. For many, it is their first time away from home and away from their families. Ram Welcome helps people get out of their dorms and meet new people and make friends. It helps them get introduced to CSU’s campus and lets them have a little bit of fun before classes start.”

While Ram Welcome is not mandatory for new students, they are highly encouraged and expected to participate in all activities. Ram Welcome leaders lead sessions during the day designed to get students comfortable with campus, making personal connections and creating memories during their first days on campus.

“My favorite part about being a Ram Welcome leader is welcoming incoming first-year students and making sure that the students have a place to feel like they can be themselves and have a great place to call home for the next upcoming years at CSU,” wrote Thorne Hensel, a Ram Welcome leader returning for his second year with the program. “To me, this experience is important because as a transfer student, I did not get the opportunity with COVID to experience the school before going (to CSU). When there are older students showing the ropes of being a college student and what it means to be a Ram, I think it makes a tremendous impact on building a closer and stronger community.”

Ram Welcome is highlighted by annual events like the Ram Welcome Carnival Aug. 17 and the Hike to the A, Rambunctious Pep Rally and annual CSU class photo Aug. 19, according to the Ram Welcome schedule found on the Orientation and Transition Programs’ website.

New additions to this year’s Ram Welcome include Pancakes with Pride, a chance to connect with the LGBTQ+ community at Ingersoll Hall Aug. 17, and a workshop run by the CSU Health Network Aug. 19, including free snow cones and prizes.

“I enjoy exciting new students to be at CSU and sharing my tips and tricks to help them be successful,” wrote Audrey Bankes, a senior Ram Welcome leader. “Meeting the new students reminds me why I love CSU and allows me to give back to the campus. Ram Welcome is important because it helps students get started on the right foot. It is an opportunity to answer questions, find resources and make friends.”

While Ram Welcome is about introducing new students to each other and having fun, the week also includes Convocation — the first and only time the entire class will all be in one place. Students will hear from university officials and student leaders before meeting with individual colleges and majors later in the day.

“My favorite memories are getting new students excited at the pep rally, helping print shirts at Ramapalooza and touring students around campus to get them ready for their first day,” Bankes wrote.

During the Pep Rally, Ram Welcome leaders choreograph and perform a dance for the incoming class — a highlight for many Ram Welcome leaders.

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“My favorite part about being a Ram Welcome leader is getting to meet all of the new students at CSU and helping in their first days as they transition to college life,” Bates wrote. “My favorite memory from my time at Ram Welcome is performing the dance at the pep rally. The dance is such a fun thing to perform, and it is really fun for the first-years to watch all of us perform it for them. Definitely a highlight of Ram Welcome.”

For the Ram Welcome leaders, they are the ones guiding new students around campus to the various Ram Welcome events. They undergo training during the summer and are all volunteer students. Most want to be Ram Welcome leaders for the experience of paying back their CSU welcome experience to a new class of Rams.

“My favorite memory as a Ram Welcome leader is growing closer to other Ram Welcome leaders,” Hensel wrote. “Last year I found new connections with the other leaders that have grown to close friendships.”

While the process and transition into college is often daunting for new students, the Ram Welcome program exists to make sure meaningful connections and comfort with campus exists before students even enter a classroom.

“This year, freshmen can expect a lot of fun experiences from Ram Welcome,” Bates wrote. “With all the events we have going on that week, they will not want to miss it. There will be a ton of opportunities to make friends and get to explore the campus. It will be so much fun!”

Reach Allie Seibel at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @allie_seibel_.

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