ESS 310: Golden Bear Orientation
Golden Bear Orientation (GBO) is right around the corner. What is GBO? On this week’s Not So Secret Guide to Being an Engineer podcast we invited Micki Antovich from New Student Services to give us an overview of what to expect, who you will be working with and why we think GBO is one of the best ways to start your time, not only at UC Berkeley, but as a Berkeley Engineer.
GBO is a mandatory, weeklong program (August 20-27) for new undergraduates that helps you:
- make connections to your peers, faculty, and staff
- learn more about available resources and experience campus traditions
- broaden your understanding of this diverse and dynamic community
- create a sense of community with your orientation group and trained Golden Bear Orientation Leaders
LAURA VOGT: Welcome to this week’s episode of the (Not So) Secret Guide to Being a Berkeley Engineer. My name is Laura Vogt and I’m the Associate Director of Marketing and Communications in the College of Engineering. This week my guest is going to get you excited about Golden Bear Orientation and tell you just a few of the highlights of what you can expect. Welcome to podcast Micki Antovich, director of New Student Services thank you for joining us!
MICKI ANTOVICH: Thank you for having me!
LV: Please tell us a little more about your role at UC Berkeley and maybe a little about yourself.
MA: Well I’m so excited to be able to spend some time with y’all. Like Laura said, my name is Micki Antovich, I’m the Director of New Student Services and I use she/her pronouns. I’ve been at Berkeley for about four years now and I’ve had the pleasure of always working in the field of orientation transition. I have the esteemed privilege of making sure that all incoming undergraduates have a smooth transition because Berkeley’s this incredible place and we want to be able to celebrate you all and make sure that we don’t have to make things harder. Trying to demystify all the acronyms we like to use. I get to work with an incredible group of professional staff and amazing students that make this happen because this campus really wants to make sure that all incoming students have a really good process of transitioning. That really ends with Golden Bear Orientation. I’m really excited to share a little more about it with everybody.
LV: Why should students be excited about Golden Bear Orientation? I know why I’m excited about it but why should the students be excited?
MA: Golden Bear Orientation is the celebration and welcome to what you have been working towards! Each new student worked hard to earn their place at UC Berkeley, and GBO is the time when each person gets to feel like a member of this community. The Berkeley community is made up of so many people, places, and resources. Rather than letting all of the opportunity become overwhelming, GBO allows incoming students to have a week of transition before classes start. The start of each new year brings energy, excitement, and possibility to the campus. I know that everyone in New Student Services is excited to finally meet each new student- we have been working all year to make sure this time sets them up for success throughout their college career.
I feel like GBO begins with move-in. What can you suggest to students to make sure moving in goes smoothly?
Take a deep breath and pause. It can be easy on this day to get wrapped up in parking, moving boxes, and realizing those sheets you bought don’t fit the new bed. What’s more important is if you have folks with you, take the time to appreciate them! It is likely that they have helped you on your journey to Berkeley, and although they will still be a major support in your life, things will look different. This can be hard to cope with, so don’t forget to say thank you and snap a photo for posterity. Oh, and be sure to check out the Move In tips from the Housing website if you plan on living in University Residence Halls. If you aren’t living in University Residence Halls on August 20, I’m sure there will still be a day of “moving in”. No matter where you plan on living during your first year at Berkeley, GBO will help you find connections and resources. Be sure to come by Lower Sproul Plaza on August 20 to check into GBO.
LV: Does GBO have a set schedule or do you pick and choose which events you would like to attend?
MA: Great question! GBO goes from Wednesday, August 21 through Tuesday, August 27. You may be wondering- what could possibly fill all that time? We believe there is more to being successful at Berkeley than just taking a tour and enrolling in courses. We have also been listening to current students and hearing things they wish they knew or had access to earlier in their Berkeley career. In order to make your transition as holistic as possible, each small group will have a unique schedule. Every day, all groups will have three meals- that in of itself takes some time. There are around 15 programs that all groups will have throughout the week, but the exact time will vary. Some programs, like the class photo or Bear Territory, will bring the entire incoming Class of 2021 (shoutout to transfers) and Class of 2023 together. Other events will just be with your small group. On the first day of GBO, you will meet your Orientation Leaders and learn your unique schedule. It is the expectation that all incoming students participate in all components of GBO.
LV: Tell us more about the GBO leaders – where did you find them and how have you helped them prepare?
MA: Orientation Leaders, or OLs, are some of the most incredible students I have the pleasure of working with! This year, nearly 500 current students are volunteering their time to help the incoming class have a great first week at Berkeley. These students come from all over campus and each is unique- some love cheers, others are quieter, much like you all. No matter what, they all are serving at OLs because they want to make student transition better. OLs go through two days of training in the Spring semester and three days of training prior to GBO. Our hope is that through this training, OLs are able to know a little about a lot of campus and be a source of support and referral to incoming students.
LV: Who are the students going to interact with during GBO?
MA: All of campus! OLs, campus departments, academic advisers, dining staff, faculty, alumni. The list goes on. More than just campus, GBO will help you explore the City of Berkeley and the greater Bay Area. You will get to connect to business owners around campus, ride Bart, and possibly take a Bay Cruise around San Francisco.
LV: Are they in groups by living situation, college or major?
MA: Students are first sorted into groups by incoming status: either freshmen or transfers. We do this because transfers receive additional programming focused on their pathway e.g. Company Visits. From there, groups are sorted again into residential or commuter. Residential groups will bring together students who live near each other to help build up what will be an important sub community. Commuter students are grouped together for two reasons: (1) to help commuter students connect with each other, and (2) to condense programming into a tighter schedule so that people can catch Bart, commute home, etc. If you are a transfer student, at least one of your OLs will be a transfer student as well!
LV: What will the average student’s day look like?
MA: I mentioned before, but there will be food! Students will have a specialized schedule that will be lead by Orientation Leaders. For those in residential groups, most days will go from 9:00am to midnight. For those in commuter groups, days will end closer to 6:00 or 7:00 depending on your dinner shift. Don’t worry- there will be plenty of breaks included!
LV: Where are the students going to be eating?
MA: Breakfast will be grab and go at any of the Residential Units. For lunch and dinner, meals will either be at a University dining hall, at our Food Trucks, or my personal favorite, at a restaurant on Telegraph Ave!
LV: What are the one or two events that you think are the most important parts of GBO?
MA: For me the event that stands out the most that I hear about the impact of it is Bear Territory. Bear Territory is when we actually bring together the entire incoming class. So it’s pretty rare that all nine thousand students are all together. Other than convocation and it’s really our time to celebrate the identities, intersectionality, pathways and experiences of our incoming class. Every single person was admitted because of all of those things and we’re building this new community and it’s so powerful to have all 9000 folks together celebrating that honoring it. Reflecting on that value and making a commitment to make Berkeley be a place that’s inclusive and engaging and supportive and every time I get the chills being in that space seeing students celebrate each other and realize that they are they are in the right place and they have they have a role at UC Berkeley. So it’s pretty incredible. And then I guess the other event that’s not even an event but it’s all those little moments with the small group. So when students are just with their orientation leaders and maybe 30 other people in their group and I walk through campus and see them sitting in the Student Union playing games and just connecting those things matter to Meeks I know that when classes start that student has a support system they have people who know their name and who they can call on when that first midterm grade comes out. So for me those two things are very very important.
LV: Do you have any tips for students of how to make the most of their time at GBO?
MA: Trust the process and participate. You worked hard to see that confetti fall on the screen and it may be easy in the moment to think that parts of GBO aren’t necessary. I promise each component was made knowing the journey ahead of you. On a more practical note, bring a water bottle and comfy shoes. I remember being very surprised by how the incline of campus impacted my body during my first few weeks as a staff member- Berkeley is a campus built on moving around! And finally, reach out. New Student Services has a full team of student staff who served as OLs in the past ready and willing to take your calls or emails. We want to hear from you before GBO if you have any concerns or questions.
LV: Thank you Micki for coming in today and sharing the excitement of GBO and what students have to look forward to. And thank you to all our new students for tuning in! We’ll be back next week with more resources and opportunities for you as you get ready to come to campus as a Berkeley Engineer.