My Farewell to the OL's...

By far, the hardest goodbye that I've had to say is to my beloved Orientation Leader Team. If you read frequently, you'd know that this wasn't my second year of being an Orientation Leader. Last year, I served as an OL and this year, I served as a Lead Orientation Leader. This amazing year has definitely not been easy. I really didn't know what I was getting myself into when I sent in my application. 

This year has been a whirlwind. It's had it's ups and downs, but throughout it all I have seriously grown so much as a leader and individual. I want to go through my top 5 things that I've learned during my two years, and then I'll have some little farewells to my team at the end. Sound like a deal? Annnnnnddddd GO!


5. The number 5 thing that I have learned from being an Orientation Leader is the power of effective communication. Let's just say that when I started on this journey, I was a little...blunt. In fact, I went up to my advisor Jessica during the move-in week and told her, "My name is Rickey Jones. I am going to be an Orientation Leader." She stopped me dead in my tracks, and gave me a much needed practicality pill. I realized then that even though I loved to talk, I needed a lot of help with my message and full communication. Communication is not just what you say, it's how you say it, what your body says, EVERYTHING. I have become so much more aware about communication and how I can get so much further if I communicate effectively.

4. Number 4, the power of letting go. This is perhaps one of my biggest struggles. I was hired as a Lead Orientation Leader because of my ability to standout and command a crowd, however, as a Lead I had the difficult task of being the one in the background (kind of). My natural ability to be noticable and leave a lasting impression had to be turned to teach the other Orientation Leaders how to be a little more extroverted and channel their inner me. That was quite a shock as well as a challenge. I didn't think I could teach people something that came to me so naturally, but it's great to see some of the most reserved OL's become bold and striking in the crowd. I'm still working, however, on letting go and letting others come in and lead, which I'm finding is the greatest reward of all.

3. Numéro Trois... the power of adaptability. The biggest thing about being an Orientation Leader is learning how to be adaptable. It wasn't hard for me to learn and get used to things changing at the drop of a hat. My "relaxed under pressure" personality really set me apart from others in the wake of difficult situations. However, for other members of my team, being able to assess situations and making necessary accomodations seemed to be difficult. When faced with having to be adaptable, I look at a situation with the following motto, "It was going to come up sooner or later, so just go with it." 

2. Alright, Number 2. Simply stated, the power of letting your guard down. At the beginning of last academic year, Taylor and I nominated ourselves to be the spirit committee, and one of our biggest tasks was choreographing a dance that was going to be performed infront of 3000+ people! I was first extremely gunhoe because we were going to get the chance to perform, but then those feelings of self-doubt started to sink in. I combatted those feelings with the help of my fellow teammates, and when we performed, we got an overwhelmingly positive response. Every Orientation almost, I get those same feelings of self-doubt because I'm nervous about what people are going to say, however, I have to remember that it's all for fun, and it really helps me get through.

1. Without a doubt, the most important thing I learned from being an Orientation Leader was the power of active listening and reading.  We have a motto on the team, it states "Reading is fundamental" and when necessary "Listening is fundamental". That phrase has been said around me so many times that it's personally engraved on my skull (not literally). When my mom is trying to tell me information that I really don't want to hear about self-improvement, I just nod my head with an attitude, but she's really seeing me actively listen. During Orientation, we are expected to actively listen so that we can think about our next steps, it all helps with being adaptable. I have definitely learned to not just turn on my ears, but turn on my brain. This helps me not only with Orientation, but just living my everyday life! I have my OL's to thank for that though!


Now, to these farewell's, I was going to do the classy thing and write handwritten notes, but that would take too much work for someone trying to move...


Krystal: From your style to your spunk to your deceiving British accent, you are one of my favorite people. I know that I can always count on you to tell me when I’m being too much, but also when I need a little pick me up.  I leave you with the choreography that we learned, so that when I see you on the streets of New York, all it takes is a “5,6,7,8”!

Mariah: I have seen you grow so much over this amazing journey. Thank you for helping to remember that it’s always going to work out! You are such a great leader, and I wish you all the best. I leave you with the late night trips to WaHo after dance practice, just because I don’t eat waffles, or syrup or pork, but we always ordered the same thing!
Milena: From the day that we met, I knew there was something so special about you. You have become one of my greatest confidants, and I am so grateful to have you in my life. We’ve shared laughs, tears, frustrations and everything in between. I am stronger because of you, and I thank you for everything you’ve done for me.  I leave you with my constant reminders of telling you that you are so beautiful, because you are. I love you.
Brandon: I’m so glad that we got to get closer over this year, we started off at differences, because we are so much alike. I see so much of myself in you, however, your focus and determination is something that I will always strive to emulate. I leave you with an imaginary megaphone, because I loved when your voice goes out during the middle of chants.

Carrington: When I think about someone who’s stylish, slightly misunderstood, and totally original, I can’t help but think of you. It’s funny, because when you meet people’s parents, their perceptions of their children with their reality is usually really different. When I met your mom at Orientation, then I met you shortly after, I was fascinated to see that the girl she described was the girl that I saw in front of me. Carrington, my challenge for you is to never let go of that originality, trust me, there’s plenty of people out there striving to be someone else, but you are so special, hold on to that! I leave you with your beautiful glasses, because yours were almost as stylish as mine!

Jesse: You should know how I feel… I’ve been honest with you. I’ve shared so much with you. You have become more like a brother than I ever could’ve imagined! It’s amazing to think that our story to becoming Orientation Leaders almost started the exact same, but I am so glad you’ve made it through this summer. I hope that you never lose your sense of curiosity. You know where to find me if you ever need anything. I leave you with the bill at dinner, because you always so graciously picked it up.

Trevon: I’ve almost become like a Papa Bear when it comes to you. I think that’s funny because out of the whole OL team this year, you were the one person I didn’t come into this experience knowing. I am so glad that we got to connect on a deeper level, however. You may not realize this, but you’ve helped me in my faith, because of your devout walk. I thank you for helping me realize things about myself, and I hope you are thankful for the things I’ve helped you realize. I leave you with my favorite verse, Jeremiah 29:11, because I know that it’s always going to help you.

Jessica: SAFARI OR DIE. When we both found out that we were going to be partners for the summer, I think it came to both of us as a shock. You, being the quiet, reserved introvert. Me being… me. I think that Haskins had a divine purpose for putting us together, and I’m so happy that we got to discover that throughout the summer. I’ve taken tips that I’ve learned from you and gone home and been the one who isn’t so loud and over the top. Clearly, by our gatherings during Orientation, you have not been afraid to take charge, and knock my socks off with your volume and presence. I leave you with a bouquet of bright red roses, because at the beginning of this process, you were a wallflower, but through your time as an OL, you’ve become a bold rose.

Raysean: “Remember that one time, in Campus Side?” is literally the basis of any conversation we have. I love how much we’ve both seen each other grow during our various leadership roles. Thanks for always being there to back me up when I’m quoting reality TV. You are so awesome, and I’m so glad that we’ve gotten closer. I can’t wait to see what your next step is, because you are always ahead of the game. I leave you with those missing cards from the library, because Lord only knows where they were…

Kevin: I think it’s really funny how everyone thinks you are so shy, and  I just don’t see it. I guess it’s because all we do is workout, and talk all night about working out and dream about working out. I’m so glad that you became an Orientation Leader, because you’ve grown so much. Keep up that work in the gym, you’re such an inspiration for me to keep going in the gym, and I will definitely be showing you my progress.

Shannon: Ok, if Accounting doesn’t work for you, just come take over my Pinterest account. It’s moments like these where, “I would just like to thank Mr. Kendrick and everyone else, because you know I come from George P. Butler High School.” (Insider). Shannon, you’ve impressed me so much with your willingness to step up and be a leader, especially when it comes to that good ‘ole fight song. You are so amazing, and if you ever cut your hair, I just might have to kill you. I leave you with your pom pom, because I seriously can’t find it…

Luke: Diva, Drama Queen, Piglet, My Little (Insert Noun Here), you probably have too many nicknames to count. Where do I freaking begin… If I had a human mirror, it would honestly be you. You have helped me to let go, and truly embrace who I am as a person. From our night where I carried you up three flights of stairs on my back, to nights where we’d be in the same room furious at each other, my life has been forever changed because of you.  I can distinctly remember first meeting you, and giving you an up and down mental reading, and my reading was exactly correct. I can remember finding out that Madison was your cousin and freaking out. I can remember when you fell backward off a stool trying to imitate Sachi’s dancing. My life with you has definitely been crazy, but it’s been the good kind of crazy. With similar personalities come very difficult and dramatic situations, but you know… who are we to be a little dramatic? Just know that through EVERYTHING that I will always love you, and I’m here for you if you ever need me. I leave with you our shared stage presence. One day, I’ll be able to do that awesome toe touch.



Xavier: When we first became OL’s I can remember that day because you were shaking as if you weren’t going to get it. And then you got an email, and mine came a little later than yours and I was mad, but we both rejoiced when we found out that we had both made the cut. When it comes down to it, I’ve grown so close with you. You are so special to me, because you’ve been so real with me. It’s so funny how two completely different people can grow to be so much alike. All I can say is that I will never be able to have a selfie game a strong as yours, and I am ok with that now. I’m so excited to move you to wherever I’m living so that you can be my children’s teacher. You have had so much influence on me as a student and you’ve helped me become a better friend. I love you my Blasian Bae.

Jessie: I honestly don’t even remember how we got close. You were the shy girl, and I was the loud guy and someday you drove me home, and the rest was history. You while you may not know it, have become a familiar part of my family. My parents and siblings always ask about you, I guess it’s because of the stories I come home buzzing about our adventures. You’ve constantly told me something that I think has finally started to stick, “Lions don’t lose sleep over the opinions of sheep.” I finally understand what that quote means and now that’s something that you’ve shown me that I can take with me forever. I want you to realize how much more like you I’ve become. I’ve always been opinionated, however, I’m striving to fine tune my opinion like you do where it’s not offensive, it’s constructive. I’ve always said that you have this swagger that I am jealous of, and it’s true. You are really one of the coolest people I’ve ever met. No matter what distance I am from you, always have my phone number ready if you ever need to vent, talk or all of the above. I love you, Bud.

Taylor: When I think of all the dancing that I’ve done, I can’t think of a better dance partner than you. We are so in-sync it’s almost scary. You play such an important role in my life, because you’ve been there for me when I didn’t even reciprocate. I look back on those experiences and I realize now what I need to do to be a better friend going forward. You have helped me learn so much about the world, about myself and I am so grateful. When I think of a list of qualities I want God to send me in whoever I marry, I want them to match to yours. Words can’t describe my overwhelming love for you, Taylor.  I am almost in tears right now, thinking of all of the memories that we’ve shared throughout this amazing experience, and I just can’t wait to see what all God has in store for you. I love you to the moon and back, twice.

Hannah: Do you remember last year when we found out that we would be paired with parents, and I cried? Now that I look back on that, I’m so glad that both of my years as an Orientation Leader were spent with you. From your amazing hugs, to your hilarious stories of the happenings at your job, you are like my guardian angel. You always know when I’m down, and you always know how to bring me back up. You are so special, and I love you.

Cody: You know what’s funny? I think that throughout this whole year, I’ve spent most of it with you. If you add meetings plus outings plus Orientation plus Late nights at the Honors Building, that’s a lot of time. I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way. You’ve helped me grow up, in the sense that you’ve been vocal about my childish shortcomings, and I thank you for that. I am still so awestruck at your strength and how you’ve been so vigilant in overcoming any obstacle that comes your way. I hope to gain a little more of your grit as I advance through my future. As you enter the dawn of your time in undergrad, I hope you get to really think about your future, you’ve come through so much and I can’t wait to see what’s in store.



Jessica: I still wake up everyday and wonder if you like me. Is that weird? After hiring me for numerous positions, trusting me with confidential information, crying with me on a regular basis and all of that jazz… I still question if you like me. But then I remember all of that stuff, and I think that if this woman doesn’t like me… she must love me to keep hiring me. I wonder, what would’ve happened if I never came to you on that day during Retreat Week? What if I wouldn’t have texted Ming on the day of my interview when I had strep throat? What if? I know a few things… I wouldn’t be as good of a facilitator. My ego would still be as inflated as high school.  I probably wouldn’t have made as many videos… I also wouldn’t have learned how to work with introverts. All this really helps me understand our relationship. My relationship with my advisers is never a cut-n-dry type deal, because that’s not how I was raised. Despite my moments of inner self-doubt, you have always pushed me beyond what anyone thought that I could do. You helped me to shine in the view of others, but also showed me that true leaders know when to follow. You’ve been understanding and catering when it came to my health. You have shown me a different type of adviser, an adviser that truly knows how to help her students develop into young professionals. God knew that my disappointments last year meant that I would have one more year with you to truly develop into someone who was ready to leave the nest. I’ve told you this countless times, and I will continue to tell you, you will never know how much you’ve impacted my life, Jessica. My love for you is so genuine, and I am so glad that I was able to grow with you leading me.

As you can see, I really love my Orientation Leaders! They are truly some of the most amazing people I have ever met. OL's, I wish you all the best of luck in this next semester of school! I can't wait to see what's next, and don't worry, Augusta is my home so I'll never be too far away!

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