Lisa Higashi, Student Development Coordinator prepares for new school year
By Elliot Chan, Staff Reporter
A smooth transition to post-secondary is not uncommon, but new students can often feel overwhelmed by the pressures of a new environment. Class schedules and homework deadlines are main academic concerns, but there are also social challenges for new students, such as staying connected to other classmates and services on campus. Trepidation is something the Office for New Students wants to eliminate, and that was a key focus this year as they introduced more orientation days in August, with three at David Lam and five at the New Westminster campus.
“It is always good to try something new and see how it goes,” said Lisa Higashi, Student Development Coordinator. “We wanted to increase capacity by adding more days—instead of having 300 students on campus, this way we can spread it out a bit more.”
Higashi, a former Douglas College student herself, began working with the Welcome Centre in 2006-07 when she was still enrolled. After graduating from SFU, she returned to Douglas, spent time working in the International Office, and finally made her way to the Office for New Students, where she now recruits at high schools, manages orientations, and runs programs for students transitioning to college, as well as the Student Ambassador Program.
The Student Ambassador Program allows students to interact with each other, while honing their skills.
“They are a group of student leaders that are selected,” said Higashi. “We ask them what type of skills they want to work on all through the year and develop workshops that help them build on their skills. Last year we did team building, event planning, and public speaking—they are soft skills they can apply to their career or volunteering.”
During orientation and the first week of classes, the student ambassadors can be found under the big black canopy in the concourse. Set in such a prime location, ambassadors are there not only to promote the program, but also to answer any questions newcomers may have.
“[Student ambassadors] come with us to the high schools, career and educational fairs, and community fairs,” said Higashi. “They participated in over a hundred events last year. They are one of the biggest volunteer groups on campus and they are very active.”
Although the Welcome Centre was removed due to the new concourse design at the New Westminster campus, the Office for New Students has an open door policy for any students that need assistance in the weeks after the student ambassadors are gone.
“If students are looking for opportunities to feel connected, Douglife is a really awesome department,” said Higashi. “They created a website where you can take a look at all the different clubs on campus, as well as volunteer opportunities.”
The Office for New Students will be looking for 10-15 new students to join the team this year. For students who are interested in applying to be an ambassador and a Douglas College representative, you can find more information and the application form at www.dcambassadors.org.