Held in person for the first time since 2019, the University’s Student Orientation, Advising, and Registration (SOAR) program offers the newest Chargers a fun opportunity to connect with their future classmates and members of the University community.
June 30, 2022
On a recent visit to the University of New Haven, Michael Chung ’26 and his parents met with staff from offices across the University. It was an opportunity for Chung to learn more about the support and resources that will be available to him when he officially joins Charger Nation this fall.
Chung was exploring the resource fair held as part of the Student Orientation, Advising, and Registration (SOAR) program. The two-day program provided a taste of what life as a student will be like when he begins his time at the University.
“It was great to meet so many people,” said Chung, an incoming civil engineering major. “I enjoyed it, and it was a lot of fun. Being at the University in person like this was a great way to make some new friends who may be friends for the next four years or, even, for life. I felt so welcome at the University.”
‘I’m very excited for the new experiences I’ll have’
SOAR brings together the University’s incoming Chargers for an opportunity to connect with their classmates and to learn more about the countless opportunities, services, and sources of support at the University. It is designed to ensure a smooth transition to Charger Nation.
Students, and their parents and families, learn about the myriad of resources available to them at the University as well as student life and how to get involved on campus. They also interact with the dean of their academic college or school as well as students from their program of study. Two SOAR sessions took place in June, and two more are planned for July.
“It was great to meet with my new advisers and professors,” said Molly Fitzpatrick ’26, an incoming a psychology major. “Everyone at the University was so welcoming. I’m very excited for the new experiences I’ll have at the University and to have more independence.”
Every summer, a team of current students helps to welcome their new classmates. Serving as orientation coordinators or orientation and transition leaders, they offer support and ensure the incoming Chargers feel welcome and experience a sense of community.
This year’s program was particularly exciting as it was the first time SOAR was held in-person since 2019.
‘The feeling of community’
Amber Cholewa ’25, an orientation and transition leader, is spending the summer welcoming members of the Class of 2026. Her own SOAR experience last summer was virtual because of the pandemic, and she is excited that her new classmates get to experience the program in person.
“I really hope they enjoy the in-person factor,” said Cholewa, a health sciences major. “I hope being at the University with everyone before school starts enhances their Charger experience. I’m enjoying being here and getting to know the incoming students.”
One of Cholewa’s fellow orientation and transition leaders Rebecca Lovatt ’24 was also excited to be a part of a fun and welcoming experience for the new students.
“It’s nice to get everyone back on campus,” said Lovatt, also a health sciences major. “During COVID, it was hard to have the feeling of community that we wanted, and I hope welcoming this new class helps that feeling come back even more. I attended a virtual SOAR in 2020, and I’m enjoying this in-person program vicariously through the incoming students. I was thinking, ‘this is so cool,’ and it adds even more to the University’s charm.”
‘It’s great to be at the University in person’
In addition to academic planning, course registration, and introductions to University faculty and staff members, new students had a variety of fun opportunities to connect with each other. It was the evening activities on the first day of the program that were particularly enjoyable for Samantha Villa ’26.
“I liked the Readers Theatre and the s’mores, campfire, and karaoke,” said Villa, who will study criminal justice. “It was the first time we got to spend time with other students and do fun things together, just like we will in college. I’m also very excited about beginning classes in my major. Meeting people in the department was cool, and it helped me feel more secure.”
It was the opportunities to make these connections and the feeling they were already a part of the University community that was so important to incoming students such as Lila Devlin-Perry ’26. When she attended the resource fair at the end of her SOAR program, she had already made some new friends, and she was already looking forward to studying abroad at the University’s campus in Prato, Italy.
“I’m really happy we got to attend SOAR in person after all the virtual things we did in high school,” said Devlin-Perry, a dental hygiene major. “It’s great to be at the University in person for SOAR, to stay in the residence halls, and to get a better feel of the University of New Haven experience.”