MacKenzie Becker: Using Personal Experience as a Resource for New Students

Orientation Peer Assistants group photo

From left to right: Becky Osborn, Anna Haywood, MacKenzie Becker and Zoey Smith.

Summer is in full swing at Minnesota State University, Mankato. In spite of the rainy couple of weeks, students around campus are being active outdoors, training for upcoming sporting seasons, taking a few credits or assisting with New Student Orientation. Throughout the summer, various groups of new faces visit campus as they prepare for their transition to college. As some of you may recall, orientation is an overwhelming and exciting experience. At Minnesota State Mankato, the Orientation Peer Assistants (OPAs) lead and guide the orientation programs for new students and their parents. One senior, MacKenzie Becker, has thoroughly enjoyed her experience as an OPA because she is able to help students make the transition to campus.

The OPAs are constantly on the go during the orientation sessions. Throughout the summer, OPAs lead thousands of students through one and two-day orientations. During the orientation days, OPAs assist in current student and faculty panels for incoming students and their families. In addition, OPAs will host small group activities for the incoming students to get to know one another. For example, incoming students who stay overnight during orientation will partake in rec night where the OPAs lead friendly matches of dodge ball and other games.

During orientation, OPAs work around the clock to create a welcoming and warm environment for incoming students to feel connected. Becker says that it’s “great to be a resource and help influence new students” coming to Minnesota State Mankato.

Becker, a Mass Media major, was encouraged to apply to become an OPA because of her own experience transitioning to Minnesota State Mankato. She has enjoyed her OPA experience because she “loves working with people and helping them in any way she can.”

Becker was undecided about what major she wanted to pursue when she first came to Minnesota State Mankato. Because she had no idea what majors to even explore, her registration advisor encouraged her to sign up for the First Year Experience course. During this course, she was connected to her undecided advisor, Sara Granberg-Rademacker. With Granberg-Rademaker’s help, Becker started exploring various resources around campus to help narrow her interests.

In the spring of Becker’s second year, she came across Disney College Program, an internship program at Disney’s Corporate Headquarters in Orlando, Fla. After going through the competitive interview process and being hired as an intern, Becker completed her internship with Disney last spring. From January to May, Becker assisted in attraction operations, guest services, and daily operations.

As Becker moves towards graduation this upcoming December, she would love to go back to Disney and continue working in the Public Relations realm. Becker believes her experience as an OPA at Minnesota State Mankato will help develop transferrable skills that will carry into her professional career.

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