For the past week, more than 200 students served as peer advisers to the incoming freshmen class and transfer students. After a week of training, the PAs spent the duration of Wildcat Welcome making new students feel at home at Northwestern: helping them move into their residence halls, answering questions about college life and shepherding them to numerous orientation events and activities.
Orko Manna, a 19-year-old Medill sophomore from Libertyville, Ill., reflects on his experience as a first-time peer adviser.
Last spring, I wanted to be a peer adviser because I enjoy mentoring people and I absolutely love Northwestern. But over the course of the past two weeks, I realized being a PA is more than just being a leader for new students and a cheery person wearing free t-shirts.
Being a PA reminded me of how much I love Northwestern.
It is often said that a PA is a new student’s first impression of Northwestern—someone who will set the tone for the next four (or three, two, etc. for transfer students) years. One of our goals is to get them excited about Northwestern, its people and everything it has to offer. But, ultimately, I think it does something much greater than that. Being a PA has re-energized my own passion for this school. It’s hard to describe or explain, but the past several days have reminded me of the day I found out I was accepted to Northwestern. When the moment came, there was such a rush of exhilaration and joy that I could hardly contain myself. I was smiling uncontrollably. I had options, but I knew NU was the place for me.
As my freshman year went on, I went through many emotions. Sometimes when you’re thinking about classes, extracurricular activities, friends, family and basically everything else in the world, it’s hard to remember that feeling of joy and pure happiness. I rediscovered that feeling during PA Camp and Wildcat Welcome. Being surrounded by the most amazing Northwestern students and leaders—who are now good friends of mine—it’s hard to think of a time when I was happier. PA Camp was wonderful because all the peer advisers spend a week preparing for Wildcat Welcome and forging a connection to one another. Our biggest connection? We all love Northwestern.
Wildcat Welcome came immediately after camp, and it was a blast because of the new students. They are truly exceptional. I can only really speak for the freshman and transfers in my PA group and those I have met in my residence hall, but I can tell they are pretty special. Watching the students in my group get excited about this amazing place—from the academic opportunities to the lakefill to the city of Chicago—reminded me of why I was so excited about Northwestern.
Even though Wildcat Welcome is over and I am no longer wearing those snazzy peer adviser t-shirts, my experiences with other peer advisers, new students, and NU faculty and staff will stay with me forever. Their passion and interest makes me even more passionate and interested in everything I am doing.
As I begin my sophomore year, I can’t wait to see my students do great things on campus. It’s hard to believe that I was in the same place they are just one year ago. So much has changed, and definitely for the better. Good luck to everyone on the start of a new academic year, and GO ‘CATS!