While making the transition from high school student to college student is arguably one of the most exciting times in a young adult’s life, it comes with the bittersweet and inevitable moment of parting ways with family members who have loved and raised a student for the past eighteen years of their lives. As students attending LSU, we have the incredibly fortunate opportunity of reuniting with loved ones during the fall semester during a weekend long extravaganza known as “Family Weekend”. I have always felt that maintaining bonds with those close to the heart as one embarks on their journey into the “real world” is an indispensable component of becoming a successful adult. I’ve always admired LSU’s commitment to not only their students, but the families of those students as well.
During this previous summer, I was fortunate enough to serve as a member of the Parent Orientation Leader (POL) team and assist in preparing parents and families for the transition that would come in August as their student leaves the nest. My experience working as a POL has left a lasting impression on me. As someone who wishes to work in Higher Education and Student Affairs one day, I welcome every opportunity to interact with students, especially in an orientation setting. What stuck with me the most though were the moments when I felt as though I had really connected with a family member, either by sharing my own experience of leaving home, or assuring them that there will always be a place on campus for their student to find food to satisfy those study cravings. The little conversations and connections I made with the parents who attended the 2011 Orientation are the special moments I hold dear to me. When presented with the opportunity to assist in planning Family Weekend as part of the Student Planning Committee, I just absolutely could not say no.
As the committee began coming together in brainstorming ideas, a vision of pure LSU fun quickly developed and we began working to turn that vision into a reality. I was responsible for coordinating activities for the Family Weekend Tailgate. As the committee discussed various ideas, we decided that the most effective way for families to enjoy themselves was to have simple activities in which family members could have fun little “challenges” with one another. That’s where the Oreos, golf balls, and pedometers found their place at the tailgate. We decided to set up a table where families could participate in a selection of “Minute-to-Win-It” games in which they must complete a certain silly task in under a minute. This led to many hysterical photos of participants with Oreos balanced on their foreheads and videos of children and adults alike shaking their head every which way in order to rack up “steps” on a pedometer that was attached to their head.
I would be lying if I said that sitting back and watching dads challenge their younger sons to these simple and silly games didn’t tug on my heart strings. I loved the chance to reconnect with parents and family members that I had met during my summer experience as a Parent Orientation Leader. I know my face definitely lit up when a parent would come up to me and exclaim that I was their group leader for the orientation session. Watching all of the Tiger families come together and enjoy all that the LSU community has to offer has truly been a rewarding experience and I feel incredibly lucky to have been a part of it.