By Jesse Berlin
“How am I going to make friends? I don’t know anyone here.”
That was one of the thoughts running through Helen Green’s mind when she attended Summer Welcome in 2017.
Now a Mizzou senior, Green is helping incoming students make friends and feel more comfortable with the transition to college life.
In the coming weeks, Green and 28 other Tigers will be guiding new Mizzou students through Summer Welcome — a program that teaches incoming students about on-campus services, helps them register for classes, invites them to attend academic division orientations and otherwise prepare for their time at MU.
Some students will attend Summer Welcome in person while others attend virtual sessions. Green will lead guide new students both in-person and online, giving tours of campus, answering questions and helping them foster connections.
This will be Green’s second year as a Summer Welcome leader. Last year, when all Summer Welcome events were virtual, Green relied on her sense of humor to facilitate interactions over Zoom. She would tell jokes, wear masks or even dress up in a dinosaur costume.
Humor helps diffuse the tension of a “weird, uncomfortable situation,” such as being in an unfamiliar environment with new people, Green said.
“If you can get people laughing, that’s just a great way to break the ice,” she said.
Green looks forward to connecting with students.
“A complete life for me is knowing that I impacted other people in a positive way,” she said.
Summer Welcome leader Jacob Hall is also looking on the bright side.
“I want to provide students with an opportunity to see the positive things in life,” the sophomore said, adding that he hopes new students spend their Summer Welcome at Mizzou “falling in love with the place.”
Hall recalls his own Summer Welcome experience as less than ideal.
“I was there, kind of going through the motions,” he said. Hall later realized he missed out by “pretending to be too cool to actually participate.”
This summer, Hall wants to give less engaged students extra attention, whether they’re attending Summer Welcome in-person or online. He plans to encourage everyone to take advantage of their leaders’ advice and insight, interact with others, and get involved.
Hall also wants to build on what he’s learned in his experience as a Mizzou tour guide. Being a member of the Tour Team exposed him to people from different backgrounds and walks of life.
“Realizing that everyone has a different story than I do and not everyone got here on the same track will be really valuable to meeting students where they’re at,” he said.
Hall looks forward to giving new students recommendations for involvement. “There’s tons and tons of different communities of people,” he said. “I’m really excited to help people find their place.”