Welcoming students back to campus is always one of the highlights of the year for ODII staff. Recently, the occasion kicked off with the class of 2026 as they arrived on campus for Into to IMPACT (I2I). As a companion to the IMPACT Peer Mentoring Program, I2I is an early orientation that allows first-year students of color participating in the program to move into their campus housing about a week prior to their classmates arriving. Once settled, the students and their families are invited to gather for a Family Welcome. During this time, ODII staff has the privilege of connecting with the families and facilitating a program overview during which we share expectations, review need-to-know information and answer any lingering questions that remain in order to feel confident about their success at the start of the academic year.
The following day, families have returned home, and the students begin an engaging day of orientation. Starting with a group picture, they then move into a Class Hunt. During this activity, students familiarize themselves with campus as they walk to locate their classes in preparation for the real deal. Once that is completed, students participate in Portal Practice. With this activity, i2I participants get a tour of the Samford portal and many of the resources therein. They also receive a brief tutorial on how to use Canvas, Samford’s online learning management system. Throughout the day, students heard from various support staff about the resources their offices boast including the Academic Success Center, Counseling and Wellness Programs, Disability Resources, and Student Leadership and Involvement. The early orientation program concluded with a panel of upper-class IMPACT students. During this activity, first-year students were able to ask questions about their Samford experiences and campus involvement. This occasion also allowed I2I students to connect with older students and further the sense of community among IMPACT members. Afterward, both groups ended the day with dinner and music. The following day students moved into the Connections Weekend activities with the remainder of their class and the excitement of their first official Samford class.
The goal of the Intro to IMPACT orientation is to reinforce the IMPACT program’s goal of inspiring a genuine sense of community and reassurance that there are many people in this community excited to walk alongside students as they begin their Samford journey. Having the chance to get settled in before the flurry of activity that surrounds Connections Weekend gives the students time to get acquainted with campus in a way that poises them for success and collaboration from the very start.
Office of Diversity and Intercultural Initiatives staff is grateful for the opportunity to support students and reinforce their decision to invest themselves in the Samford community. It was truly a pleasure to welcome them to Bulldog Country!