By Aaron Marshall
As the booming bass thumped away and the incoming freshman chatted while waiting in line at a handful of food trucks, Isabela Hyre took in the late August scene at the ODI Early Arrival Program social mixer with a sigh of relief.
College life had finally begun for the first-year environmental engineering major, and, well, things were starting to look up. “I was a little bit afraid that I would be the only one trying to talk to people, but everyone has been really open and sharing their own experiences,” said Hyre, a Morrill Scholar and Latinx Early Arrival Program (LEAP) enrollee. “It's been really cool to see all the different cultures, but also the similarities that we Latins have.”
It had also been a nerve-wracking start for Eddie Tassy, a first-year pharmaceutical sciences major enrolled in the Bell National Resource Center on the African-American Male [BNRC] program. “I just think that talking to people helped me come out of my shell a lot; it's been surprising how close we've become in such a short period of time,” he said.
The pair of first-year students were just two in a sea of ODI students found at the social mixer, a highlight of the ODI Early Arrival Programs offered the week before classes formally began on the Columbus campus. As the food truck lines gave way to an impromptu dance floor, students in bright colored shirts representing LEAP, BNRC, Young Scholars, Morrill Scholars, and LSAMP programs mingled to the strains of Lil' Nas X's “Old Town Road.”
Designed to set up students for early success, the Early Arrival Programs feature opportunities for ODI students to meet with faculty, hear directly from older students, network with fellow students and get a feel for campus life before the fall semester begins.
“They are surrounding you with people that are going to help you thrive later,” said Grant Lee, a first-year sports industry student who is part of the BNRC program. “Just being in a room with like-minded people, it makes it an easier transition I'd say. I've been a little surprised about how good it's been.”