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Welcoming Great Danes 

From left, NODA interns Elizabeth Harris and Liz Baldwin.

ALBANY, N.Y. (July 31, 2017) – In a few short weeks, Elizabeth Harris and Liz Baldwin have had a lot of practice answering questions from the parents of incoming freshmen and transfers, and helping new students get used to campus life.

Harris and Baldwin are serving as National Orientation Directors Association (NODA) interns through the Association for Orientation, Transition and Retention in Higher Education. During the month of July, they have strengthened the experience for new students by offering leadership training for UAlbany Orientation Leaders, and providing an outside perspective.

With some 2,300 incoming freshmen and 1,300 transfer students attending welcome sessions, Harris and Baldwin have learned everything from event planning to supervising students. “It has been a wild and amazing ride this summer,” Baldwin said.

This is the fourth year UAlbany has hosted NODA interns, according to Director of Orientation and Transition Programs Holly Barker-Flynn. “We’ve hosted six students so far from Oregon to Florida and everywhere in between,” Barker-Flynn said.

When Barker-Flynn first started as director, three orientation professionals from other institutions conducted an external review of UAlbany’s program. One of their recommendations was for the University to join the NODA Internship Program. Barker-Flynn took their advice.

Harris is enrolled in a master’s program in higher education at Florida State University.

“During my interview with Orientation and Transition Programs, I immediately felt like I clicked with the team – hearing their passion and love for the University at Albany made me extremely excited for this opportunity,” said Harris, of Cranberry Township, Pa.

She and Baldwin split the summer between working with students and their families. They organized and facilitated sessions for parents where information was provided on everything from career development to the counseling center to campus safety.

For the first half of the month of July, Harris worked with the families and Baldwin, the students. They switched roles halfway through, and together, they supervised the student family leaders.

Baldwin, who is studying college student affairs administration at the University of Georgia in Athens, Ga., is from Scotch Plains, N.J.

“I am in awe of our incredible student leaders!” Baldwin said. “They impress me every day with their willingness and desire to give to others and to take their work so seriously. Our students do it all and do an amazing job.”

The two work with Intercultural Student Engagement to guide the diversity and inclusion workshop, Inclusive Danes, emphasizing how much UAlbany values the diversity of its students.

The two also supervised evening games on State Quad from 10 p.m. to 12 a.m. and the ThinkFast gameshow. These activities allow incoming students to decompress after a long day through lawn games, a photo booth and a food truck, fostering more interaction with students outside of their direct orientation group.

“I have been surprised at how much I have enjoyed working with the families during orientation,” Harris said. “I thoroughly enjoy hearing about their excitement for their students to enter UAlbany as well as helping calm any nerves or reservations they have about sending their students away. Families are always so appreciative of the program and the impact that we have on them in the two short days they are with us is evident.”

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A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, business, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.