New-to-college-students: MCC orientation goes online

 “Instead of walking in, they were logging in.”

That’s how Meridian Community College Director of Recruiting Brandon Dewease described Eagle Elite Orientation – an online orientation session in which students (and parents) can get familiar, involved, register and prepare before the August start of fall term 2020. Eighty-six students from multi states participated, Dewease said.

This was the first orientation in which the process was all online; the College reconfigured the event because of the coronavirus stay-in shelter-mandate. “It was fantastic in that we were able to maintain the sense of normalcy in the orientation experience,” Dewease said. “Except for stepping foot on our campus and tasting our fried chicken, they had the same experience,” he added.

Seeing the world of MCC is an essential part of orientation. With the self-paced sessions and Zoom-based video conferences with key College personnel, including financial aid, advising, Business Office staffs, participants got the opportunity to get acclimated and understand more about college.

“I enjoyed it. Of course, it was different because of the coronavirus,” said Leigh Wallace, 18, a senior at West Lauderdale High School. She said as she was going through the Zoom video conference, a few of her friends were listening, too. “It was really exciting,” she said.

She noted her session took about an hour and a half.

Another high school senior, Tyler Smith, 18, who goes to Northeast Lauderdale, agreed the experience was different than what he had expected, “but I learned everything I think I needed to learn so it was a good experience,” Smith said.

With career aspirations of going into the ministry, Smith plans on pursuing a master’s degree in communications. The first stop, though, will be MCC.

All new students must attend orientation, Dewease said, but there’s more to it. It serves as is a new student's opportunity to get acclimated to campus, understand more about campus life, and to meet new people.

Getting started on her career choice

Eighteen-year-old West Lauderdale High School senior Leigh Wallace was one of more than 80-plus students who signed up for fall classes at Meridian Community College when the MCC hosted its first orientation session.

“I have to get a lot of my pre-requisites out of the way first,” she said, before she begins to work on a career in Radiologic Technology.

Like many, she has a reason why she’s choosing her career. “It’s kind of crazy. I was just interested in it. And then got diagnosed,” she said.

In February, Wallace learned she has Hodgkin's lymphoma; she is currently undergoing chemotherapy treatments.

“When I had my first CT scan, and I just saw the machine, and I just started crying because I got nervous, and I got really intimidated,” she said. Learning more about her chosen career, Wallace thinks it will be a benefit to others. “But now it seems like when I’m able to do that and help calm people down and tell them I’ve been there before, I know exactly what’s going on. I feel like that will be good,” she said.

She’s relying on her Christian faith, too. “I’m taking it day by day. I read in Matthew and it talked about don’t worry about tomorrow, tomorrow has its own worries. So I’ve been taking it day by day. The Lord leads me where He will,” she said.

Wallace is eager to start her college studies at MCC. “It’s close to home and both of my parents went to MCC first, and I think it’s really cool. A lot of my friends are going to MCC, too, and I think it will prepare me for the rest of my life,” she said.

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