New Student Orientation showcases 'We Are' session at national conference

Steph Krane
March 25, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Three student staff members from Student Orientation and Transition Programs at Penn State presented a session about diversity and inclusion — usually given as part of New Student Orientation — at the Association for Orientation, Transition and Retention in Higher Education’s (NODA) annual regional conference.

The conference was held March 15-17 at Virginia Tech University.

Student Staff Coordinators Natalie Ondrey and Elise Warren, along with Welcome Week Director Jordan Emely, were chosen by NODA to present the “We Are” session to attendees from nine states and more than 50 universities. Their attendance marked the first time that students represented Penn State Student Orientation and Transition Programs at the NODA Region 8 conference.

The “We Are” session focuses on the history of diversity and inclusion at Penn State, including Wally Triplett and the birth of the “We Are” concept. The session also covers topics such as reporting incidents of bias, finding places of worship for all religions, and locating offices geared toward different multicultural identities. Additionally, the NSO presentation includes the “We Are” project, where all incoming students write down a part of their identity on a colored piece of paper that is made into a collage and displayed in the HUB-Robeson Center all summer.

Along with Ondrey, Warren and Emely, Assistant Director of Welcome Programs Molly Nulty also attended the conference. While she wasn’t part of the presentation, Nulty said she was proud that the students were given the opportunity to share part of what they did as Orientation Leaders over the summer.

“The fact that we were accepted and [NODA] wanted us to present says a lot about the work that we’re doing,” Nulty said.

In addition to presenting, Nulty and the students attended sessions presented by people involved in orientation programs at different universities.

Emely said he enjoyed the opportunity to network and make connections with other people in the orientation field.

“Not only do you get to make friends with other orientation leaders and student leaders, you get to talk to directors of programs and say ‘this is what we do, what do you do,’” Emely said.

Overall, the weekend was beneficial for Nulty and the students as they aim to make the New Student Orientation experience at Penn State the best it can be for incoming students.

“It was nice to be able to take our student leadership team and show them what other schools do, so they have things that we can implement into Orientation and Welcome Week [at Penn State],” Nulty said.

Student Orientation and Transition Programs is part of Penn State Student Affairs and Penn State Undergraduate Education. Penn State Undergraduate Education is the academic administrative unit that provides leadership and coordination for University-wide programs and initiatives in support of undergraduate teaching and learning at Penn State. Learn more about Undergraduate Education at

Last Updated April 01, 2019