Community of new students welcomed at Pepperdine


Student counselors greet incoming firstyears and their parents with campus information and smiles of encouragement.

By Lindsay Kuhn/Special to The Malibu Times

There was an orange glow on the first day of orientation at Pepperdine University last Wednesday. Sure, the sun was bright, the hills of Malibu were ginger and the school colors of Pepperdine are orange and blue. But it was the upperclassmen counselors working at the event who were the essence of the warm, welcoming feeling.

The orientation that started last Wednesday was the second of two for the first-year class at Pepperdine. About 300 students and 420 parents were expected to attend, a little less than half of the class. The remainder of the class, about 450 students, attended the first orientation in June and joined the rest of their classmates on Friday, for the last days before class began on Monday.

“It’s easier to build a community with smaller groups,” said Doug Hurley, director of Student Activities. “It’s more manageable for us and for the students to do it this way.”

The real community builders were the counselors. Wearing orange shirts, they cheerfully greeted first-year students and their parents at registration and answered questions before they were even asked.

Mikal Kelly, a junior, was one such counselor who bubbled with enthusiasm. “I had a fabulous two years here and then I went abroad,” she said. “That’s one of the great things about Pepperdine. Over 50 percent of students get to go overseas.”

Since Kelly was overseas last year, she thought that working at the orientation would be a great way to reorient herself to campus life and make the new students feel as welcome as she did when she first got there.

“I remember the counselors being really helpful at my orientation,” she said.

Kelly was drawn to Pepperdine by both the religious aspect- Pepperdine is affiliated with the Church of Christ-and the smallness of the school. “Everyone knows each other. I love that,” she said.

Money was the consideration for Tom Hulse and Sam Kim. The two firstyears chose Pepperdine because they received scholarships to play volleyball. They said they were only considering schools with volleyball teams and made the decision to come to Pepperdine after their recruiting visit earlier in the year.

Under white tents, counselors handed new students packets with maps, academic information, and a complete schedule of academic and social events. There were two separate itineraries-one for parents and one for students. Both itineraries contained prayer sessions, receptions and educational seminars about the school. With seminars entitled, “A Parent’s Changing Role,” Pepperdine realized that parents, too, transition when they send their children to college.

Lou Ellen Blankenship accompanied her daughter Jeannine to the orientation, and said she was probably going to be changing jobs since Jeannine wouldn’t be at home anymore and she’d have more free time. Having grown up in a rural town of 8,000 people in Missouri, Jeannine was her last child to leave home. Both the strong community-feeling at orientation and the knowledgeable counselors made her confident that Jeannine would be in good hands.

“Jeannine will be fine,” she said. “I probably won’t need to visit again.”

So with the support of the counselors, the students in class of 2007 were introduced to their new community at Pepperdine, and about to embark on a full four days of scheduled events-together.