2016 Week of Welcome President's Walk
Handshakes and smiles from Pres. Genshaft help new students feel welcome.
Students in line at the USF Financial Aid Office experienced a fun diversion Aug. 24 when USF System President Judy Genshaft popped in.
Greeted with smiles and wide eyes of surprise, Genshaft made her way around parts of campus as part of her annual walk when fall classes begin. She has done this every year since arriving at USF 16 years ago.
“We pride ourselves with being a welcoming campus and I want everyone to know they are welcome,” she said between handshakes.
Along her route, Genshaft met dozens of students. Her aim, she said, is to find the freshmen and transfer students to make sure they are finding their way around campus and are taking steps to get involved. While talking with one freshman who said she lived off campus, Genshaft jumped right in and handed her a booklet that listed upcoming events and campus organization information.
“It’s important you get connected,” she told the young woman. “We don’t want you isolated and being involved will help you succeed.”
Making her way to the bustling bookstore, Genshaft chatted with students in line to buy books. One by one, the students fell into easy conversation with USF’s president. They introduced themselves and asked to take selfies with her. They proudly said where they came from and what they planned to study when she probed for details.
The effort to greet incoming students has a real impact and offers a boost for new students in their first week when things tend to feel new and overwhelming, said J.B. Burroughs, Peer Advisor Leader for the USF New Student Connections in the USF Department of Student Affairs.
“Amidst the chaos of a new environment populated with tens of thousands of people, it's powerful to see a top leader at USF walking around and welcoming you and your peers,” Burroughs said. “Some new students were shy at first or didn't really know who she was, but once they started talking with President Genshaft, you could notice them relaxing and having great conversation. Plus, getting a selfie with President Genshaft is definitely something to brag about!”
“I think having her hand out the WOW brochures to new students was another power move because these students were quite literally handed opportunities by our president!” he added.
“The little moments matter, and those selfies and small exchanges between Judy and new students could be the difference between them feeling like USF is just going to be another school, versus USF is going to be a home.”