Sophomore Felisa Wei Hsieh remembers arriving to Colonial Inauguration, George Washington University’s orientation program, nervous after a two-day flight from her hometown in Taiwan. She was apprehensive about becoming a Colonial—yet, once she got to campus, a group of students in matching white polos instantly pumped her up.
“Who are these people, and how can I become one of them?” Ms. Hsieh wondered.
Ms. Hsieh had just met the Colonial Cabinet. Eagerly, she applied to join their ranks last semester. After undergoing the interview process, she was handpicked as one of 32 Colonial Cabinet members who will work with 12 CI staffers this summer to welcome new students and their families to GW. Colonial Cabinet members guide incoming freshmen, while CI staffers facilitate activities for siblings of new students.
CI celebrates its 23rd year this summer.The GW tradition consists of two and a half days jam-packed with sessions tailored to acclimate students, their parents and their siblings to university life.
This year’s Colonial Cabinet members and CI staffers embody all kinds of George Washington experiences: They include scholars, athletes, student organization leaders and more. Their diverse majors range from biological anthropology to dance.
During CI, the cabinet leads discussions and presentations designed for incoming first-year students. They focus on academics, student organizations and tips on living in D.C. They also take to the stage with “Scenes from College Life,” a series of skits about adjusting to college and one of the most memorable parts of the orientation program.
Ms. Hsieh, who can relate to the difficulties of leaving home, hopes to make connections with incoming freshmen, particularly those from faraway places.
“With a growing international population at GW, I want to be able to guide domestic and international students alike,” she said. “I want to be someone they can ask for guidance—a mentor and a familiar face on campus.”
Because transitioning to college can be an adjustment for the entire family, CI offers many sessions for parents. These include sessions from the Office of Parent Services, small parent groups and presentations focused on helping parents teach students to advocate for themselves and adjust to leaving home. CI also answers parents’ questions about academics, move-in, dining and more.
To help younger siblings, GW offers the Siblings Program led by CI staffers. CI staffers provide a comprehensive introduction to GW by answering questions, guiding campus tours and organizing excursions around the city.
“Instead of solely introducing the incoming freshmen to the culture and community of GW, CI seeks to do that for the entire family,” sophomore Megan Shah, a first-time CI staffer, explained. “Staffers are trained to work with children whose older brothers and sisters are going through a transitional period that will directly affect them. “
They also get a chance to explore the nation’s capital.
“From museums and the zoo to boat cruises and late-night food spots, the Siblings Program truly encompasses the best of the vibrant city their older brother or sister will soon call home,” Ms. Shah said.
The first CI session starts on June 13. Both Colonial Cabinet members and CI staffers have worked hard to prepare—for the past couple of months, their days have been filled with meetings and training sessions. Colonial Cabinet members and CI staffers comprehensively trained on every aspect of the university: They attended sessions about GW’s values and meetings with deans, advisers and President Steven Knapp and Provost Steven Lerman. Staffers also completed CPR, automated external defibrillator (AED) and First Aid certification classes.
Despite the long days, the team is bursting with excitement.
“I cannot wait to help the students familiarize themselves with GW's campus and community, its resources and the opportunities it brings,” Ms. Hsieh said. “Additionally, I‘m excited to do all these things while working, learning and growing alongside 31 other Cabinet members.”
Anne Moore, who oversees CI, looks forward to this summer particularly because of the outstanding student leaders.
“I have been thoroughly impressed with their professionalism, maturity and dedication to the Colonial Inauguration program thus far, and I’m excited to see what they will accomplish,” she said.