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Senior Courtney Kojak leads New Student Orientation Program

Courtney Kojak with her Administrative team

Courtney Kojak, a senior from Branchburg, NJ, led the New Student Orientation Program for the incoming Class of 2022 in late August. The class includes 1686 new Villanovans - 97 nurses among them- from 42 states and 17 countries. Her predecessor in the role, Mikaela Gill ’18 BSN, was also a nursing student.  She shared the story of her experience:

The AC role

“As the Administrative Coordinator (AC), I was responsible for administering all physical aspects of the program. The AC works with the Student Chairperson and the Steering Committee beginning in January to prepare for the program in August, and then works full time in June and July with the Student Chair to prepare for the arrival of the rest of the Orientation Staff and new students during the first week of August (when the job then becomes 24/7!).”

Courtney Kojak delivered a speech to the freshmen class as part of the New Student Commissioning Ceremony during the program’s Closing Mass. "It is one of the first and few times an entire class is together as a whole, and we perform a community building ceremony by spreading candlelight to each member of the class using the Paschal Candle. This formally “commissions” a class to begin their journey at Villanova and become a member of our community"

Top 5 things I did

·         “I selected and trained a team of 20 Administrative Assistants (AAs) all of whom are undergraduate students at Villanova across all class years and majors and who are part of the Orientation Staff. AAs work hard behind the scenes to make sure all of the physical aspects of the program are in order.  The AA's have many responsibilities within the program, including facilitating group discussions, interacting with different orientation groups, completing administrative tasks, preparing for and managing events, and answering questions at the Information Center. 

·         I organized and oversaw two major picnics during the program. One on Opening Day when we provide dinner for all of the new students and their families (about 6,000 people) and our closing New Student Picnic (about 2,000 people). I coordinated the setup and breakdown of the event, ordered food and beverages, staffed the event, and created a setup/schedule for food service. 

·         I was responsible for creating a university-wide Production Memo that included information and program needs from several offices on campus including Public Safety, Grounds, Villanova University Tech Crew, Electricians, Carpenters, Facilities, Painters, Athletics, and Custodial. This included everything from room reservations for program events and workshops to tech needs for Opening Mass on Campus Green.

·         Each new student is provided with several giveaway items provided by campus departments or local businesses as a way to advertise your service or remind students of their role as a resource. I coordinated the donation, organization, and distribution of over 20 new student giveaways from various offices including reusable cups from the St. Thomas of Villanova Day or Service Committee, laptop stickers from the Office of Health Promotion, and bandage dispensers from Mainline Health!

·         I worked with an off campus rental company to coordinate and plan the reservation, setup/breakdown, and utilization of the large tent on Austin Field where several of our program’s events were held in addition to the setup of over 5,000 chairs on Campus Green for our University Welcome and Opening Mass!”



How the AC experience relates to nursing

“While the work of the Administrative Coordinator isn’t always the first to be acknowledged, and isn’t always necessarily understood, I came to realize very early on in the job that it is all about the ability to see how the work you do makes others feel, very similarly to the role of a nurse. My job was all about creating a positive experience for new students; and by using the empathy I have developed during clinical rotations while caring for patients, I was able to see and feel the experience through the eyes of new students and understand how the role I played made a difference.

As the AC, I had the opportunity to create a program in which new students used their experiences gained in just four days to set a foundation to build the rest of their Villanova experience. While to some people a box of hoagies might mean dinner, to me it means two new students who both like roast beef decide to sit together and make their first friend at Villanova.

I see how the chairs on Campus Green provide families to share a special moment as parents extend their arms in support of their student who is about to set out for the very first time on his or her own.

I know how the setup and breakdown of a 4 Day presentation gives members of the Orientation Staff the tools to alleviate a new student’s concerns or inspire a new student to find their own home on campus by becoming involved.

By seeing beyond the task itself, the way a nurse can see how education can empower a patient, or how just listening to the story about a patient’s grandson’s first day of school (even if it’s for the 6th time on your shift) can make them feel known and understood is what makes the position so special.”