- FUN FEATURES
Katie Liberopoulos was very active while attending Cheshire High School. Whether contributing to student government or captaining the field hockey and lacrosse programs as a senior, the 2009 graduate enjoyed working with her peers and the community.
So, when Liberopoulos came to the University of Delaware (Newark), she wanted to take similar initiative.
The next passion that set her on a new path was discovered early on, as she went through her freshman orientation program and learned about the school.
“I knew that I enjoyed it and wanted to be part of the program,” reflected Liberopoulos. “I became a tour guide in my freshman year and then you get to apply for orientation. When new students come in, we help them learn about the University. The thing I like most about UD is all the opportunities they have. Academically, socially, emotionally inside or outside the classroom, there are so many things you can connect with.”
As a rising sophomore, Liberopoulos was named a student leader of New Student Orientation (NSO). Interested students filled out essays and then had an interview with the orientation director.
“The essays asked why do you want to be a student leader, what skills do you have, describe your leadership style, and what have you gained from orientation,” explained Liberopoulos.
Then, last year, she applied for more responsibility as a Senior Leader. While only a rising junior, she was selected for the position with her friend, senior Chris McElwee.
“I was excited because I really wanted the position and beat out rising seniors for it. It shows that age doesn't matter,” said Liberopoulos.
Orientation runs during the summer and fall, but for organizers, the process starts in October and runs for the whole year. Liberopoulos and McElwee picked the staff and trained them. Senior leaders are joined by a Program Coordinator, Staff Assistant, and 12-15 orientation leaders.
“This year was different because I was in a leadership position instead of just working there,” reflected Liberopoulos. “A lot of the behind-the-scenes stuff happened during the school year. I had different responsibilities and learned a lot.”
She admits that there are demands on her time. Liberopoulos is a human services major with minors in sociology and disability studies.
“I'm a student first, but then this goes above my other organizations,” said Liberopoulos, who routinely woke up at 5:30 a.m. to meet her co-workers an hour later. “It's a lot of work, but I don't mind because orientation itself isn't hard and it's something I like doing. In my job, I get to have fun and be myself.”
Freshmen find a full day of activities during orientation at Delaware. Liberopoulos is most comfortable unveiling Delaware to them and their families.
“We give them (freshmen) a lot of different advice on getting involved in clubs, getting to know your teachers, and don't judge your roommates on their Facebook,” explained Liberopoulos. “I try to find different ways to connect to the students because they are all different. I like working with the parents because they have concerns, too.”
Liberopoulos is currently enjoying a break before returning to Delaware for more orientation activities.
“I go back a week before classes start (on Aug. 30),” said Liberopoulos.
But, early next year Liberopoulos will be the one learning about something new in South Africa. She applied and was then accepted into one of Delaware's most competitive study abroad programs held every other year. Winter session consists of a two-week holiday break and another five weeks for study abroad or internships.
“I was beyond ecstatic,” said Liberopoulos, who was informed in March. “I looked into study abroad choices and the one in South Africa was for my major. The interview process was really intense. I know I worked hard for it and deserve this opportunity.”
The program includes a class on South African history and 50 hours spent working at an orphanage, created for children dealing with AIDS.
“I think it is going to be an amazing and eye-opening experience,” stated Liberopoulos. “People have told me that the culture is different. These children are sick, but they are still kids and want to do the things that other kids their age do.”
Liberopoulos plans to research the nation before hand.
“I still have to get my shots and physicals done,” added Liberopoulos. “This will be my first time outside of the United States, beyond Canada. It has my mom worried, but I am excited.”
Top photo is courtesy of Delaware. The bottom ones were submitted by Liberopoulos.