In-Person Orientation Returns: Here’s What O-Team Leaders Have to Say

Sarah Rodriguez, Copy Editor

Orientation is a pivotal moment for prospective students. Prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, each summer, California State University, East Bay, hosted hundreds of new students annually for in-person orientation.
This July, the 2021 Orientation Team was excited to do just that (with a few exceptions). The campus is once again welcoming prospective students to join in-person welcome sessions as an opportunity to experience the unique East Bay atmosphere while engaging with other students.
The optional in-person sessions are meant to be supplementary to the mandatory virtual orientation sessions hosted throughout June and July. In the three-hour in-person welcome sessions, the team incorporated successful activities from previous in-person orientation sessions and modified them to abide by current county guidelines.
Following Alameda County Covid-19 guidelines, the sessions are limited in capacity and staff continue to utilize face masks and social distancing.
Leilani Lopez, Orientation Team intern expressed, “Staying safe was Orientation Team and Cal State East Bay’s goal as we begin to populate our campus Orientation Programs,” and they continue to work closely with Cal State East Bay’s Risk Management Department to ensure students remain safe.
The Pioneer Newspaper sat down with three remarkable Orientation Team leaders to gain some O-Team insight.
Leilani Lopez Lamas
Leilani Lopez, a third-year double majoring in Political Science, has climbed the O-Team ladder starting out as an Orientation Team Leader, to now an intern. Lopez is beyond excited to get a taste of the in-person sessions again and welcome new Pioneers to campus.
Looking forward she said, “I’m most excited about [eventually] returning to full capacity for in-person orientations because, year after year, new incoming students fill our campus with so much joy and positivity during their first introductions at our New Student Orientation.”
In planning the welcome sessions, Lopez said the O-Team wanted students to have the “East Bay experience” after this last year was limited to virtual learning. She is also looking forward to stepping foot on school grounds to resume in-person campus tours as well for the Fall 2021 semester.
Lopez expressed her gratitude by saying, “even with a reduced capacity at our in-person preview sessions, being able to interact with new Pioneers in person is very rewarding, not only to me but to the rest of the Orientation Team.”
Martin Viramontes
Martin Viramontes, a third-year majoring in Psychology and a second-year Orientation Team Leader expressed his excitement in embarking on this summer’s orientation sessions.
Looking forward, Viramontes said he is more than ready to, “Meet new people and make new friends and at the same time, guide them into a better transition from college or high school to CSU East Bay.”
Viramontes made it clear that although in-person orientation requires a bit more work and planning, he is excited to finally socialize and connect with future Pioneers in a way that benefits them. “CSU East Bay is not only a college, it is a family,” Viramontes said.
His interest in Orientation Team began as a member in the freshman class of 2019 when he attended his own Freshman Orientation. While attending the event, he stated, “An orientation team leader asked me if I wanted to be a leader… I do not know what she saw in me but here I am, now as an Orientation Team Leader.”
Years later, now as a member of O-Team, Viramontes wants to be that same orientation leader for someone else now, and he plans to encourage a student to be a leader as well.
Malia Heeren
Malia Heeren, a second-year sociology major, debuted this summer as a first-time O-Team Leader in addition to this year’s Team Engagement Lead.
Last year as a freshman herself, Heeren was unable to share some of the same orientation experiences as her other O-Team members, considering she was part of the first class to have orientation entirely virtual.
“Although the virtual sessions are fun, it’s a totally different experience & vibe being able to come to campus & welcome the newest additions to the Pioneer family,” Heeren said.
Due to last year’s unfortunate circumstances, Heeren stated, “It feels really good to be able to come back to campus, especially for a lot of the new team members like myself!” She encourages students to keep an eye out for the return of campus tours, fun giveaways, music, and much more.