BY TAYLOR MABELITINI
The Community Park of Washtenaw Community College was a spectacle on the afternoon of Sept. 15: a flood of white tents, club flyers, free food and the bobbing heads of students filled the grassy area as more than 90 organizations and vendors from in and around the Ann Arbor area participated in the biggest Welcome Day campus has seen since it’s inception.
The event, put on annually by WCC’s Student Activities, is intended to make students aware of the various resources and opportunities available to them, as well as many interesting clubs and activities on campus.
“We want them (students) to know that we’re glad that they chose WCC for their higher educational needs, so this is to welcome them on campus. I think that they should come so they can be welcomed,” said Coordinator of Student Activities Rachel Barsch, and organizer of this year’s Welcome Day. “A lot of students go here and they don’t know that there’s free tutoring. They don’t know that there’s a library and that the librarians can help you with your research. They don’t know about all these great resources that are free to them. This (Welcome Day) is a good place to come and learn about that. It’s bigger every year.”
Also present at the Community Park that afternoon was WCC Sports, complete with none other than Alpha, the college mascot. Their table held multiple flyers for on-campus tryouts in sports such as women’s soccer, running, competitive dance and basketball teams for both men and women.
“I think it’s so imperative that students be involved with campus and the life of it, it makes the whole process more enjoyable. Instead of just going to school and leaving, you’re going to school, you’re involved with it, you get to meet new friends and you create a family here, with the people you’re with,” said Coordinator of WCC Sports Matt Lucas. Veronica Boissoneau, a 20-year-old sports assistant at WCC, echoed this sentiment.
“I’m from Arizona and I came here not knowing anybody, so I got involved with sports and with soccer and it was the best experience for me because if I didn’t meet people I probably wouldn’t have gone back because I wouldn’t have been able to acclimate here so well,” Boissoneau said.
Music and the low hum of chatter drifted through the air as three students — Christina Wallag, Ramon Fuentes and Julius Tompkins — had their first performance, armed with only a music stand, an amp and a few instruments.
“We all met in voice class and said ‘Hey, let’s do some music,'” said Tompkins, a 26-year-old music production major.
“I asked to do this,” said Wallag, an 18-year old nursing major. “This is our first performance but we’ve done the voice class stuff, and we all have our own individual backgrounds, then we met together.”
Music wasn’t the only creative expression at Welcome Day. Also present were both the drawing and poetry clubs, which offer opportunities for students interested in writing and illustration to show off their work for critique and a learning experience.
“We’re pretty low intensity, so we don’t require too much for students. We kind of just draw, hang out, rent out studio space (and) we do stuff with still life. So it’s a pretty interactive, hands-on, friendly environment for students who like to draw. We also have critiques for students who are taking drawing classes here. If they need help with any techniques or subjects in class, they can come to us,” said Quentin Burton, 22, an illustration major who was the representative for the drawing club at their Welcome Day booth that afternoon.
The event, however, was not just all fun and whimsy. Students were also exposed to a wealth of information about on-campus resources, such as the recently renamed Student Resource Center, formerly known as the Student Resource and Women’s Center.
“We offer grants for tuition, books, childcare and bus tokens for students who are in need. We have two upcoming programs, one for culinary arts and then October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. So, we have our Passionately Pink event, and we have speakers coming in from St. Joseph Mercy Hospital. We basically help students overcome any barriers that may prevent them from being successful in school,” said Cheryl Finley, a case manager at the center. Finley directs students to the second floor of the Student Center to schedule an appointment with a case manager. Students can also find their resource information online or give them a call.
Another resource available for students is the Student Ambassadors Program, which is designed to help all WCC students make their time on campus less challenging.
“We work with all new students, they come from everywhere. They come from all different places. It’s any new student. I know that a lot of students have been using the resources here because they need a base to start off on,” said Sarah Atali, a WTMC student and current student ambassador. Those involved with the program also created a scavenger hunt for students to find booths with information pertaining to other resources available to them at WCC, such as the Bailey Library and Career Services.
The president of the college, Rose Bellanca, also made an appearance, giving a short speech and presenting students with an opportunity for a “selfie” with her. “We are looking forward to an amazing semester,” Bellanca said.