Williamson’s 2021-22 school year began September 1st and the Class of 2W4 is beginning their 1,000-day Williamson journey ahead of the game because they are familiar with the school’s core values, know each other well, have an awareness of the cultural differences among their classmates, and have a little more self-confidence.
This is all because they participated in the 4-day First Year Experience (FYE) prior to registration and orientation, a series of events and seminars that are the first step in a comprehensive 3-year leadership program with the goal of making graduates Williamson Men who have leadership skills.
FYE included seminars on diversity, leadership opportunities, and events designed to increase self-confidence and learning how to work as part of a team, both as a leader and a follower. One such event was Outward Bound in Philadelphia, offering outdoor activities that help to build character, inspire leadership and self-reliance, and emphasize working together as a group, by taking people out of their comfort zones.
On the first day of FYE, they heard welcoming remarks from President Michael Rounds, Provost Todd Zachary, and Chaplain Mark Specht 7W7, who explained that being accepted to Williamson is a great opportunity that will benefit them throughout their lives so it is important for them to “stay the course” through to graduation. They pointed out that the school has high standards, but they are designed to help them be successful in life. They also said the goal of FYE is to offer challenges, have them get acquainted with each other, and to learn about Williamson and its mission before their education gets underway.
The class then broke up into small groups on the lawn outside of Rowan Hall with a staff facilitator and shared personal information to get to know each other better. After an exhilarating game of water balloon toss and lunch, they heard a talk on diversity from Bishop Dr. Alvin Motley, of the Way Thru Christ Community Fellowship. Following that, they broke into small groups, each with a guest facilitator, to further discuss the topic and to get to know each other better.
On the second day, half the class went to Outward Bound in Philadelphia and half heard seminars on diversity and the importance of character and giving back from representatives of the Travis Manion Foundation, followed by a community service project that included doing landscape work at the new home of Middletown Township’s library. On the third day, the two groups switched activities. The students not only got to know Williamson and each other better, but also some of the faculty and staff.
On the fourth day, the class broke into small groups with each working to solve ten challenges. The purpose was to promote bonding and to encourage working with others to solve these challenges while having fun. They also got to know seniors who were there as mentors as well as some faculty and staff.
Next, 26 alumni, representing a variety of class years and trades, met with the freshmen in their respective shops to share advice and give the students a preview of what to expect in their first year at Williamson. Following the shop time, the alumni and freshmen joined members of the faculty and staff for a barbecue at the Pavilion on Cottage Row, with President Rounds and Tim Burbage, director of food services, doing the barbecuing.
In another special part of the event, six members of the Class of 7W4 met with the 2W4 freshmen to kick-off the inaugural year of Williamson’s 50-Year Affiliate Program. The program serves to connect members of the incoming freshmen class with members of the alumni class 50-years their senior. Members of the Classes of 7W4 and 2W4 will have opportunities to celebrate hallmark Williamson events and key milestones together over the next three years leading up to 2W4’s commencement and 7W4’s 50th reunion.
The FYE alumni event and the 50-year Affiliate Program are part of Williamson’s larger effort to offer opportunities for alumni to serve as mentors – sharing their knowledge, skills, and experience in support of Williamson students.
If you are interested in volunteering to participate in similar alumni events throughout the year, please contact Laura Brown, director of alumni relations at 610-566-1776, ext. 420 or firstname.lastname@example.org.