By Leah Jones, Features Editor

 

An amalgamation of excitement and trepidation about future academic and social success permeated the air as Triton Take-Off Weekend came to a close at the Serendipity Sendoff this past Sunday. Though not all of them attended the event, Megan Green, Director of New Student Programs, estimated that there are about 450 incoming freshmen and 1200 transfer students who will begin their journey at the University of Missouri-St. Louis in the upcoming fall semester. The students who did attend received welcome at the Serendipity Sendoff.

Green described Triton Take-Off Weekend as an extension of students’ orientation, designed to get them involved, to become aware of opportunities on campus, and to make connections. On August 19, students moved into their dorms and participated in ice-breaker activities to meet their peers. Green said that though the activities were fun, students were “nervous… [there are] many emotions that many new students go through.” Saturday’s events facilitated more serious conversations, with programs like ‘Strange Like Me,’ which focused on diversity on campus. Sunday’s events focused more on academics. “The academic buildings are open. They can tour and see where their classrooms are. [There is the] Serendipity Sendoff and the Welcome Picnic, kind of inducting and beginning the brand-new school year,” Green said.

Victoria Rogers, senior, biochemistry and biotechnology, who also works as a peer mentor in Residential Life, helped to give some of the classroom tours. She also gave tips to incoming students. “Some classrooms… are ridiculously difficult to find. This is my last semester here and I still get lost on the second floor of Benton-Stadler… That complex is really convoluted,” she said. Rogers also helped students to learn to navigate the peregrination between North and South campuses and advised students on other important things such as food at the Nosh. “You don’t necessarily know what comes out quickly,” she said.

“Every year, [the Serendipity Sendoff] is kind of a way to get UMSL freshmen engaged on the campus and feel celebrated and welcomed and it’s pretty cool. All the returners line up and basically high-five all the fresh-man, and they run through, and then the freshmen get to sign a triton and it’s like every year there’s a triton with all the freshmen signatures on it. And then there’s a picnic and party and a live band and all that,” Rogers said.

New Student Programs (NSP) held the Serendipity Sendoff to end the event-filled weekend in front of the Thomas Jefferson Library at 4:30 p.m. The event began with Vice President of the Student Government Association and Weeks of Welcome Student Coordinator, Briana Robertson, senior, biology, addressing the incoming fresh-men and transfer students. She wished them serendipity, which she defined as“good fortune.”

Sheena Crompton, alumna, business administration, of the UMSL Alumni Association spoke next. She situated students in UMSL’s 53-year history, beginning with the original purchase of the property from the Normandy School District in 1963 and welcomed new students to the current UMSL community of 16,000 students, 851,000 alumni, and even more faculty and staff. She spoke about her own journey through UMSL, beginning in 2010, and told students how she discovered her enthusiasm for international business. “Here at UMSL, I uncovered my passion…I encourage you to use your time here at UMSL to explore your passions” she said.

Green took the stage next. “You all represent UMSL’s future,” she said. The attending faculty pledged to mentor the incoming students on their academic journey and the new students took the Triton Pledge.

Though a lively event, the Serendipity Sendoff is a new tradition at UMSL. The first sendoff took place in by the Millennium Student Center in 2013. Dorian Hall, Event Services Supervisor said, “NSP just felt like there wasn’t one singular unifying event to get new students together. We do have the picnic, but there wasn’t any speech or any rally cry so to speak… We wanted to do something a little more ceremonial.”

Hall also wished the students a prosperous year. “I want to wish all of the students a good first year, those that are coming in this year, and continued success to those that are returning this year. As a student some years ago, and a staff member now, it is certainly an honor to be able to serve the students and serve with those who helped me out years ago. So, I’m looking forward to any student who comes my way,” he said.

Andrea Lair, senior, music education, and member of the a cappella trio, Melodia, closed the Serendipity Sendoff with an a cappella version of UMSL’s Alma Mater. Her voice soared and, at least momentarily, relieved the initial anxiety. The students ran off to rub the notebook held by the statue of Wayne Good for serendipity, before attending the Welcome Picnic.