Welcome Week gives freshmen a smart start
Danielle Keenan-Miller, assistant professor of the practice of psychology at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, was doing what she likes best: teaching undergraduates.
Her three-hour crash course on “The Mindful Brain” was one of 50 micro-seminars offered to new USC students during Welcome Week. Held Aug. 22-29, the week prepared students for success at USC through academic, social, spirit and service activities presented by the Office of Campus Activities, part of the Division of Student Affairs.
“I took this mindfulness class because I want to appreciate things more,” explained Sean Holaday, a civil engineering major.
“I came here to learn to relax,” said Joanna Lui, a business administration major.
Over the next three hours, Keenan-Miller and the students explored the practice, psychology and neuroscience behind mindfulness meditation, a powerful tool for coping with the stresses and distractions of college life.
“I’m hopeful that at least some of you will walk away from this thinking, ‘I should do that some time when I’m feeling stressed out, overwhelmed or upset about something or just for my own well-being,’ ” Keenan-Miller said.
In a nearby classroom, another group of freshmen also gained useful perspective at the Academic Success Seminar. During the session, Abi Ingleton, director of the Undergraduate Success Program at the Center for Academic Support, talked about everything from the registration calendar to emotional intelligence.
“I could give you all these different tips on how to study better for a multiple choice exam or true-false exam or short answer exam, but I don’t have tips like that,” she said. “How you feel and how you’re dealing with situations is really going to be the greatest determinant of the grades that you receive in your classes. Learning how to manage yourself and your relationships are really the keys to your success.”
In addition to these serious preparations for the big transition to college, the week presented lighthearted opportunities to participate in a community service day, Involvement Fair, carnival, concert, dance, multiple barbecues and more. It also incorporated Trojan rites of passage, such as Move-in Day and New Student Convocation, where USC President C. L. Max Nikias officially welcomed students with an inspirational speech.
To help incoming students keep their schedules straight during this whirlwind of activity, the Office of Campus Activities teamed up with Guidebook.com to create a new Welcome Week app featuring a planner, alerts for daily events and maps.
“Welcome Week has been busy but very informative, and it’s a great way to meet people,” said freshman Symiah Campbell. “It’s just weird that we’re not in high school anymore!”