With tassels turned and graduation caps flung, newly minted high school graduates across the country are heading into the next phases of their lives. For some, that means packing their bags for college with their sights set on earning a bachelor’s degree.

The first of 10 new student orientation sessions for the 2017-2018 academic year will begin at the College on June 19, 2017. It’s a time of great excitement for rising freshmen and transfer students, but it can also come with a lot of anxiety as these new students transition into the world of higher education and the College of Charleston campus.

Here’s what nine CofC orientation interns want the Class of 2021 to know as they take their first steps as bona fide Cougars:

Alexandria Ainsworth

“Orientation is such a fun experience, but it can definitely be overwhelming with all the events, people and information being given to new students. To avoid getting overwhelmed, I would tell a new student to take a deep breath and realize that this isn’t the last time that they’ll hear this information, and they don’t have to soak up everything in two days. There will always be someone on campus to help! Just make a friend and absorb as much as you can – the rest will come with time!”

A veteran orientation intern, this is Alexandria Ainsworth’s third year introducing new students to campus. A senior majoring in biology, Ainsworth will work this year as a senior customer service representative during orientation, assisting students as they register as well as working behind the scenes to ensure orientation runs smoothly. An avid animal lover, the Cheraw, South Carolina native hopes to one day have a career as a veterinarian.

Mary Geer Kirkland

“To get the most out of orientation, you should go to every session on your schedule. Not only will you gain important knowledge, you will also meet new friends along the way and become more familiar with campus. You will feel a lot less nervous on the first day of classes if you know where all of the buildings are! Also, make sure you allow yourself sometime after scheduled activities to explore your future home and grab a bite to eat at one of the many great restaurants!”

As a first-year orientation intern, Mary Geer Kirkland, who is Charleston-born and raised, wants to share her love for the Charleston community while helping others become part of the it, too. A sophomore majoring in international studies, Kirkland hopes to pursue a career in law or the foreign service.

Rodrick Bellamy

“Be social! The people you meet at orientation can turn out to be your best friends. For all you know, the person sitting next to you could be your soulmate. The only way to find out is to talk to them!”

This is Rodrick Bellamy’s second year working as an orientation intern. This year, in addition to welcoming new students to campus, the Conway, South Carolina native will serve on the panel for the Residence Life and Housing session as well as help to coordinate the Student Organization Fair on Day 2 of each orientation session. Bellamy, a junior majoring in middle grades education, plans to teach middle grades math or science with a goal of moving into school administration.

Bianca LaPaz

“Walk into orientation with the mindset that you’re starting fresh with a clean slate. College will challenge you and change you in ways that you cannot fathom right now, but it is also a sort of second chance at a new beginning. While it may be easy to get caught up in the excitement of meeting new people, remember along the way that college is also about being on a journey to finally meet yourself.”

As a second-year orientation intern, Bianca LaPaz will serve as a guide for new students, a crisis manager and assist behind the scenes to make sure information tables are always stocked with resources for new students. As an urban studies major with a concentration in sustainable urbanism and a minor in environmental and sustainability studies, the Summerville, South Carolina native hopes to one day have a career in the public sector guiding large cities, such as New York, toward practices that embrace environmental stewardship and eco-efficiency.

Monalia Smith

“When you go in for orientation, I challenge you to make yourself comfortable with the uncomfortable. There will be a lot of new information coming your way and tons of opportunities to make new friends. This is your time to get in tune with the campus, register for classes and find a home in CofC. Seizing these opportunities requires you to embrace those uncomfortable moments and make them fun memories.”

An RA dedicated to helping students succeed and find a home in the College of Charleston, this is Monalia Smith’s first year serving as an orientation intern. Smith, who is from Spartanburg, South Carolina, is a junior majoring in public health. She plans to pursue a career in family dentistry.

Julie Chea

“Do not act like you are too cool for orientation. There is a lot of information at all of the mandatory sessions. Even if they come off as pointless as you read their descriptions on the pamphlet, attend anyway! Seriously, don’t skip! You never know if there could be a tidbit of information that could benefit you or spark your interest in a way that you have never thought about.”

As a first-time orientation intern, Rock Hill, South Carolina native Julie Chea hopes to have a positive impact on incoming freshman. The senior, who is majoring in computing in the arts with a concentration in studio art, is open to which ever path life leads her down after college. She hopes to one day have a career in the tech field in a role that allows her to use her creativity in her work.

Darius Evans

“Don’t be afraid to ask questions. My mom is a teacher, and she always tells my brothers and I the only dumb question is the one not asked. To avoid getting overwhelmed, stay calm and definitely stay hydrated – it will be hot! I think the incoming freshman should not only go to the workshops that interest them, but try to complete them all – even those that seem less than exciting. The most important one for me was the financial aid workshop. But have a little fun, too. Make sure you swing by the pineapple fountain, the turtle pond behind the Stern Center, Rivers Green by the library, and remember to take a stroll down King Street!”

A sophomore majoring in elementary education, Darius Evans is a first-year orientation intern who wants to help new students get acclimated to CofC. Evans, who is from Bennettsville, South Carolina, plans to pursue a master’s degree in education, before working as a classroom teacher. He hopes to eventually climb the ladder of K-12 education to become an administrator.

Tyler Lyles 

“Honestly, in my opinion, the best advice that I can give to incoming freshman on how to avoid becoming super overwhelmed is to come in with an open mind. College can be scary and overwhelming, but coming into college open to different possibilities is definitely the key to not feeling so stressed out.”

A veteran orientation intern, this is the third year Tyler Lyles will welcome incoming freshman and new students to campus. This year the Boiling Springs, South Carolina, native will work behind the scenes during orientation in an administrative and logistics role. As a senior majoring in middle grades education with a focus in math and science and a minor in computer information systems, Lyles plans to launch his career in the world of education as a middle school science teacher. He then hopes to one day lead a school district as superintendent. Later on, Lyles might take a shot at being president of the United States.

Chris Bailey

“Orientation is a choose-your-own-adventure type of situation. There’s a lot of information thrown at you and you more than likely won’t know anybody. But if you take advantage of the sessions offered – and choose to put yourself out there – you can learn a lot, make new friends and, most importantly, have a lot of fun! It also doesn’t hurt to get to know your orientation intern. We’re pretty cool – kind of.”

As a junior majoring in communication with a minor in history, Chris Bailey hopes to enter the field of public relations after college, with an eye toward working on political campaigns. A veteran orientation intern, this year Bailey, who is from Rock Hill, South Carolina, will serve as a customer service representative, working to man the desk in the Office of New Student Programs and helping behind the scenes to make sure new students have a great first introduction to campus.