The New Student Experience for the Fall 2020 Semester was held virtually on Aug. 29, the due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, workers from the New Student Experience and students who attended said they can still have a BYU–Hawaii experience even if they are at home.
NSE team members said they decided to help welcome new students at BYUH because their own NSE helped them to feel the aloha spirit, comfortable starting school, and build lasting relationships, and they wanted to help new students feel that same way.
Manny Susi, a senior from Oregon majoring in hospitality and tourism management, co-hosted the NSE live stream. Susi said, “BYU–Hawaii is just a small chapter in your life. To cherish it, have fun, don’t hold back. If there is something you feel you want to try or build, there shouldn’t be anything stopping you from that. Step out of your comfort zone and try new things.”
Susi said he decided to work with NSE because he remembered how much it helped him his first semester.
“I was grateful for the New Student Experience for the activities they had so I could get to know more people and get to know people I was going to have classes with.” He said he loved the idea of getting to know people before classes started so students can “feel less alone starting school.”
Susi said he wanted the new students to “feel comfortable, to feel accepted and to feel the spirit of aloha.” He said he wanted them to be confident at school and in their classes and feel they are in a “safe and healthy environment.” Although classes are online, he hopes students will be able to “make relationships that are going to build, hopefully for the rest of their lives.”
Another member of the NSE team, Dikshyanta Lama, a senior from Nepal majoring in business management, said she got involved with NSE because she wanted to push herself out of her comfort zone.
“After joining [NSE], my purpose of working kind of shifted and became more outwards… It’s very rewarding to see people... to help people feel comfortable and happy.”
Vilimaina Likuborebore, a senior from Fiji majoring in political science, who also works on the NSE team, advised new students to “take breaks in between [study sessions] because breaks are really important. As much as they like to spend two to three hours in front of the screen, being involved in our classes and doing assignments, updating and turning them in on time, it is important to take breaks as well.”
McKenzie Connell, a freshman from Montana majoring in biology, said the NSE live stream made her excited to come to the BYUH campus in-person one day. “It was very nice to learn about the culture, learn about the different opportunities I’ll be able to experience once we start going back to campus. [It] showed me there’s a lot I don’t know and a lot I’m excited [for]. It reminded me of the reason I decided to come here.”
Charity Fonoimoana, an academic advisor, said although students are at their homes, they can still have a positive BYUH experience. “I know they’re going to still have clubs with virtual meetings so they can be with groups of people and still get some good kind of socialization and meet new students.”
She said when students arrive on campus, they will be ready to meet the friends they made online in-person.