On Aug. 18, about 1,800 new students moved onto campus eager to begin their very own Villanova journeys. There to greet them were Resident Assistants and more than 100 Orientation staff members in bright pink t-shirts. That night, new students headed over to Mendel Field for “Catchella,” the annual first night mixer hosted by the Campus Activities Team (CAT).
The following morning, the Class of 2025 attended the opening Mass ceremony led by University President Rev. Peter M. Donohue, O.S.A., Ph.D.. There was a buzz of hope and joy on campus, as family Mass is a monumental Villanovan tradition— a tradition that was put on hold during Fall 2020. It was a beautiful day on the Campus Green. The new students and their parents heard speeches from members of the University’s community, including Father Peter, Kathleen Byrnes of Student Life and Rohan Gohel, the 2021Orientation Student Chair. Gohel, a senior political science and economics major, has been planning this year’s program since October 2020. He was formerly an Orientation Counselor and has a love and passion for the New Student Orientation Program. Gohel strived to make this year’s program unforgettable for the Class of 2025.
“Orientation this year was the most life changing thing I have ever done,” Gohel said. “Being able to be there for New Students to ensure they have a smooth college transition while making lifelong friendships made me even more grateful for Villanova and the NSOP. I hope every new student feels loved and welcomed because they deserve that and so much more.”
After saying their final goodbyes to their parents, the new students headed to various classrooms across campus to meet their Orientation Counselors, who they would come to know and rely on for the next four days. They were divided into groups of 20-22 new students who were likely equally excited and nervous for what was to come. Transfer students also attended Orientation, led by a group of Transfer Counselors who have experienced the transition to the University later than their freshman year.
With no mask requirements or glass shields separating tables in the Pit, the Class of 2025 was able to have an Orientation experience vastly different from that of last year. Some were hesitant to even label it “normal.” The Class of 2025 spent the next four days attending academic orientations, playing games with their groups, learning classic orientation chants, getting their first tastes of the dining halls, watching presentations on valuable campus resources and getting to know their fellow classmates. The new students attended funny presentations that explained the SEPTA train to Philadelphia. They attended important conversations on Moments That Matter, a presentation about sexual violence awareness on campus and the various resources available for students. Students also attended the Diversity Skit hosted by The Association for Change and Transformation (ACT), a performance followed by a guided conversation that discusses perceptions of what happens at the University and provides tools for students to act as allies.
Each night of Orientation, the students and the Orientation Staff Members funneled into the Finneran Pavilion for nightly entertainment. The students had their first taste of Villanova athletics with an exciting presentation by Assistant Basketball Coach Dwayne Anderson. Soon after, the Class of 2025 was mesmerized by the Evasons, the mentalist Duo magicians. Students were called up to stage to have their minds, personal items and thoughts read and exposed by the magical Tessa. Saturday night, the students received a motivational speech from Eric LeGrand, a former American football defensive tackle who became paralyzed in 2010. Eric encouraged audience members to be their best each day and take advantage of this precious time in college. The final evening of Orientation ended with the annual closing Mass ceremony, at which the 1,800 new students lit up the Finn with candles and the singing of the Alma Mater.
After a difficult year of isolation and uncertainty, the Class of 2025 brought Villanova hope during the four days of New Student Orientation. Though the program ended that Sunday night before classes would officially begin, the memories made and the bonds created will last a lifetime. Orientation continues to positively impact new students and show them what it truly means to be a Villanovan.
“Villanova’s Orientation Program does an incredible job recognizing the importance of human connection,” said senior Brenna Gaffney, who is the Assistant Chair of the Orientation Program. “During both our Orientation Staff training and the four days of Orientation, every action is intentional. We aim to show every new student that we care for them in every interaction we have, whether it is a conversation or just a smile. The New Student Orientation Program has been such a meaningful part of my Villanova experience, and I hope it inspires all of the new students to continue to connect with other Villanovans as they embark on their first year at Villanova.”