Gannon welcomes new students to campus

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Freshmen students in the outdoor adventure FYT group get suited up for the ropes course at the Peek’n’Peak Resort during Welcome Week activities.

Faith Wilson, News Editor

Gannon University welcomed over 600 new freshmen to campus with the semester kickoff, Welcome Week.

Welcome Week is a six-day event where incoming students are engaged in a variety of programs meant to assist in building connections on campus and preparing them for their first semester.

These programs include residence hall and academic program meetings, first-year team or FYT activities, and late night programming sponsored by the Activities Programming Board.

Despite the ongoing pandemic, the Leadership Development and Campus Engagement staff were able to plan a Welcome Week that was mostly unhindered by COVID-19, which was a marked change from the previous year.

“The biggest setbacks we had were resources in supplies or people,” said Jaime McCaslin, director of Leadership Development and Campus Engagement. “A lot of items were either on back order or suppliers were not able to get exactly the items we needed.”

McCaslin said there is also a national bus driver shortage, but the university was able to manage with different requests or adapted some of its planning to accommodate the events and transportation needs.

This year’s FYT groups were able to travel to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Peek’n Peak Resort, and even to places in Erie such as the Erie Art Museum and the Erie Zoo.

Tyler Hufnagel, a freshman pre-medicine major, was a part of the musicians FYT group.

“Welcome Week was a blast,” Hufnagel said. “I got to meet so many new people and experience so many new things.

“We actually got to put on our own mini concert in Perry Square. I definitely think all of the activities were a great way to get incoming students involved on and off campus.”

McCaslin said she believes students who attend Welcome Week are “more confident when they start classes because they have had time to meet friends, navigate campus and get settled.”

“We want to thank the students and the Transition Guides for participating and creating environments to make connections with each other, and we hope that this is just the beginning of their Gannon experience.”

Welcome Week concluded with the annual IgKnight Activities Fair and Mission and Ministry Ice Cream social on Aug. 24.

The IgKnight Activities Fair was an opportunity for both freshmen and upperclassmen to meet with different student organizations, groups and departments on campus.

This year had the largest number of groups – 83 — tabling at the event and an estimated 500 students attended.

Along with the many groups and organizations in attendance, Matthew Schlessman, Student Government Association president, participated in a dunk tank for students.

The Activities Programming Board also held a raffle with prizes such as AirPods, Apple watches, gaming consoles and more.

Tori Williams, assistant director of Campus Engagement and Activities, is a new addition to the Gannon.

This was her first year planning the IgKnight Activities Fair.

“I think the Activities Fair was a wonderful event for our Gannon community,” she said. “The IgKnight Activities Fair gave students an opportunity to connect with student organizations and departments to help them build community and a sense of belonging.”

“We hope that the Activities Fair can continue to grow. We encourage all students to join at least one student organization during their time at Gannon.”

After the IgKnight Activities Fair, Mission and Ministry hosted an ice cream social open to all students.

Caught In The Rain, a student band on campus, performed for the social.

Brady Bizon, a senior physician assistant major and theater minor as well as the lead singer and keyboardist for the band, was excited to perform again for the student body.

“It’s so nice to see people gathering again,” he said. “We are looking forward to playing at some more events this semester.”

While Welcome Week only occurred less than two weeks ago, planning has already begun for next year.

FAITH WILSON

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