Another fall semester of classes has officially begun at UMBC and with each passing fall semester, the campus is greeted by the advent of incoming freshmen. You can see them aimlessly shuffling around academic row during the first days of classes. You can hear the distinct sounds and calls that they make (particularly the utterance of “True Grits,” a term that they will soon learn to not to say). You can smell the plethora of different AXE body wash and deodorant scents. It is a magical time, to say the least.
Freshmen tend to get a bad rap for not being able to quickly assimilate into the functioning student body. Despite this, they all get there eventually, but not all on their own. UMBC provides plenty of opportunities and resources for freshmen to get, more or less, comfortable with the other students and the campus.
One of these resources, the Woolies, often fall short of proper recognition. Woolies are non-freshmen students who are assigned a floor of the residence halls for the freshmen move-in week. They are to help the new freshmen move in and become acclimated with the campus. This gives the freshmen instant access to a UMBC veteran who can answer whatever questions they have about college life and can even connect them to other people and organizations at UMBC.
A role that holds this much potential for freshmen, the future of UMBC, can only be filled by experienced, knowledgeable, yet relatable veterans. Take Laura Arvin, a sophomore biology major, for instance. Arvin has done a great job of distinguishing herself throughout her high school and early college years.
“In high school, I was very active in the student government as the freshman and sophomore class executives and vice president,” Arvin said. “I was also a member of the National Honor Society and Science National Honor Society and I was the president of the Spanish Honor Society. During my senior year, I was captain of the varsity basketball team, an officer in Ambassadors and a retreat leader. The same year I was named Miss Catholic High, which is similar to student of the year.”
Arvin continued to stay equally as active after her graduation from Catholic High. She quickly became active on the UMBC campus as a freshman last year and has continued advancing herself in the ranks that she began last year. “Currently, I am the recruitment chair for the Phi Delta Epsilon International Medical Fraternity, and I’m a member of Global Brigades, specifically the Medical Brigade. I’m also a Learning Assistant for CHEM 101 and I will soon begin conducting research in Dr. Dahlquist’s Pediatric Psychology Lab on campus. Last year, I volunteered on campus as a SUCCESS Peer in the Public Speaking class and I taught ESOL at the Esperanza Center downtown,” Arvin explained.
All of this isn’t to say that Arvin is some sort of superhuman. Her favorite color is yellow. She enjoys the simple pleasures in life, like hikes and spending time with her friends and being a Woolie this year. Arvin explained that her inspiration to become a Woolie was because of her Woolie during her own freshman year. “I had an absolutely incredible Woolie during Welcome Week freshman year. She was always enthusiastic and encouraged us to attend events, which really helped me bond with my floor and make friends outside of my dorm. I had so much fun during my Welcome Week that I wanted to provide a similar experience for the new students this year.”
Arvin expressed how rewarding being a Woolie is and that she would absolutely recommend incoming freshmen to look into becoming the next Woolies. “The best part about being a Woolie is watching the students branch out of their comfort zones as the week progresses. It’s so great to watch as friendships are forged and as the students become more comfortable and sociable around campus,” Arvin said. “I would definitely recommend that others consider becoming Woolies! If you loved Welcome Week or want to introduce the newest members of UMBC to the community, then you should consider getting involved. A great Woolie should be patient, enthusiastic and eager to encourage the new students to get involved themselves.”