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Helping Others Transition into the College Experience

Carrie Mikulka and Sean Peniston stand side by side.

Seniors Carrie Mikulka and Sean Peniston get ready to lead FOCUS training on Monday morning.

Carrie Mikulka arrived at Stetson University as a “really shy” first-year student who didn’t like stepping outside her comfort zone.

But that changed right away, she said, when she attended Stetson’s FOCUS Orientation for incoming students.

“It brought me out of that and I got to meet a bunch of people and my FOCUS leader actually became one of my best friends, so I met a lot of people who I’m still connected with four years later,” said the senior psychology major from Winter Park, Florida.

Mikulka is overseeing “Friends On Campus Uniting Students,” or FOCUS for short, as orientation coordinator this year. She and Assistant Coordinator Sean Peniston were busy Monday morning organizing 80 FOCUS leaders who will welcome incoming students on Move-in Day on Saturday, Aug. 19.

group shot of students dressed as Kiss

Some FOCUS leaders dressed as Kiss for Monday’s training.

The FOCUS leaders are undergoing five days of training this week in all aspects of Stetson – from the various administrative offices to services offered by the Student Counseling Center to information on the Student Government Association and other students groups.

To keep things fun, each day of training comes with a theme. Monday’s theme was music and entertainment, with some students dressing up as Kiss and others dressing as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

“FOCUS really helps you transition into the college experience,” explained Peniston, a senior from Pennsylvania majoring in Business Systems and Analytics. “It helps you make some friends, understand what Stetson is about, what the culture here is like as well as gives you exposure to the different things that Stetson has to offer.”

FOCUS will begin Saturday, Aug. 19, at 2 p.m., right after students move into the residence halls and apartments from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The five-day orientation for all first-year students and transfer students with less than 24 credits offers a long list of activities, including a Class of 2021 photo on Rinker Field.

KP Ojameruaye is a Resident Assistant.

International students move in on Tuesday, Aug. 15, with orientation on Wednesday through Friday, Aug. 16-18.

In the Hollis Wellness Center on Monday morning, 69 Resident Assistants also were busy with training. RA’s live in Residence Halls in order to help other students, build community, and foster a positive living and learning environment, said Annlyn Harvey, Stetson Residential Life Coordinator.

The RA’s arrived Aug. 6 for two weeks of training, which includes everything from crisis management to yoga and meditation with Lua Hancock, Stetson Vice President of Campus Life and Student Success.

Junior KP Ojameruaye said she applied to be an RA because she knows first-hand the impact they can have.

“My freshman year, my RA really helped me out. She showed me what to do. Without her, I would not have been able to stay in Stetson,” said Ojameruaye, who is from the United Kingdom and Nigeria, and is majoring in Business Systems and Analytics, and Finance.  “She made Stetson feel a lot like home because, for my birthday, she had decorations on my door. It was just very homey to have her there, so I want the opportunity to give to other people.”