From August 20-25, Rensselaer officially welcomed members of the Class of 2017, and introduced them to the local community through a weeklong series of events known as “Navigating Rensselaer & Beyond” (NRB). Created under The Rensselaer Plan in 2001, NRB is usually organized around three general themes: adventure/team building; cultural/historical; and community service. The incoming class of 1,424 students participated in more than 110 activities organized by Rensselaer staff, departments, and student clubs. The NRB program was supported by more than 400 student, faculty, and staff volunteers.
“When students arrive on campus, and especially in a new environment, it can be intimidating,” said Janelle Fayette, dean of the Office of the First-Year Experience. “As a new student, you’re thinking about moving into your residence hall, meeting your roommates, wondering what your first day of class will be like, and so much more. In addition, for the majority of our students, this may be the first time that they are living away from home, especially if it’s a great distance—for an extended period of time.”
Some highlights of the week included overnight trips to the Adirondacks and the Berkshires; volunteer opportunities with local organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and the city rescue mission to support housing construction, park clean-up, and serving meals to the homeless; building an electric vehicle or a hybrid go-kart; diving into the challenge of performing contemporary a cappella music; and learning a variety of modern forms of ballroom and Latin dances.
Additional NRB activities included working with residents and current students to continue Hurricane Irene recovery and restoration efforts in Schoharie County; traveling to Little Brook Farm with the Rensselaer Equestrian Team to improve the quality of life of rescued horses; playing the sport of Quidditch; learning about Rensselaer traditions; working to produce and execute a live multimedia audio visual event; and exploring sustainable building methods and then applying them to a real-world, hands-on project.
“We want our students’ transition to college life to go as seamlessly as possible,” Fayette said. “NRB helps students forge new lasting friendships and create memories that will sustain them through four or five years of academically challenging course work. The goals of the program are to build affinity groups that bring students with similar interests together as well as helping students create strong, stable social communities inside and outside of the residence halls and classrooms. The ‘Beyond’ component of NRB represents the continued support given well into the year.”
Other activities included the annual greeting at the 8th Street Approach, at which President Shirley Ann Jackson greets and shake hands with each member of the class. In addition, students, faculty, staff, and members of Troy and surrounding communities also had the opportunity to attend the annual Welcome Festival, a free communiversity celebration featuring live entertainment, outdoor activities, arts, and crafts.
The week’s activities culminated with the First-Year Convocation event Aug. 25 in the East Campus Athletic Village Arena. The ceremony, hosted by the Office of University Events, featured guest speaker Linda Schadler, Russell Sage Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and associate dean for academic affairs for the School of Engineering.
To view a video compilation of the week’s activities, go to Rensselaer’s YouTube channel or go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Gom_h10eEU&list=UUdH4jKoTt9Lr18RxrRqv4gQ.
Photos by Kris Qua