Commuters celebrate individuality

Students walk past Gannon University’s Commuter Corner every day on their way to classes in the Palumbo Academic Center, but many of them don’t take the time to get to know the students – or the general goings-on – inside.

Many commuter students got the chance to explore campus at the 16th annual Commuter Awareness Days on September 20-21 – commuter life’s biggest event of the year.

The event is a two-day celebration of commuter life at Gannon. Commuters are encouraged to travel around campus and visit the different offices and buildings while simultaneously signing up to earn prizes. Many of the offices also offer goodie-bags to the visiting students.

Heidi Noyes, Gannon’s director of commuter life and the returning-to-education adult program (REAP), said the event is a way for commuters, who have presumably lived in Erie for a long time, to explore campus. She said many commuter students don’t take a tour before coming to Gannon because they’re already from Erie.

Noyes said one of the primary goals is to give the commuters, and particularly first-year students, a look at all the buildings and services Gannon has to offer.

She also said it’s a great way to have the university celebrate the commuters’ uniqueness.

Another reason for the day is to encourage student participation in LIFECORE.

Noyes said this was the first of a new series of signature LIFECORE programs, which focus on student development.

She said walking around campus with other commuters is a good way to develop the social dimension of LIFECORE.

Junior biology and pre-med major Joe Petrone said Commuter Awareness Days is a great way to meet people and win prizes.

“I enjoy the event because it is a great way for students to get involved on campus,” he said.

Noyes said this year’s event was a little different from previous years in that students had to commit more to participating.

First, they had to grab a ticket from the Commuter Corner that acted like a punch card, which they would take to three different mandatory campus locations and then two others of their choice.

People working in the offices would stamp the ticket for them, then they took it back to the Corner to write one thing they learned on the back.

Once they turned that ticket in, the commuters were eligible to win any of more than 20 prizes that were donated to the Corner by different businesses in Erie.

Noyes said it’s nice to see that offices on campus are willing to open their doors to the students, but there are always downsides to changes in an event. “I knew it would limit our number,” she said.

She said she knows about 52 commuters participated, 21 of whom were freshmen. “It was good to see a lot of the first-year students doing it,” she said.

Freshman criminal justice major Geyzel Mendoza said she really enjoyed participating in Commuter Awareness Days. “I think we get the chance to see what’s really out there as a commuter,” she said.

Though their biggest event of the year has come to an end, Noyes said there’s more to look forward to this year. Coming up on Tuesday, Oct. 4, commuter life will participate in the prayer service to end hatred at 7:30 p.m.

She said another important event is nation non-traditional student week – which takes place the first week of November – where students 25 and older are specifically recognized.

“We try to do something every day [that week] to celebrate and recognize the non-traditional students,” Noyes said.

KELLY MORELAND

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