Freshmen and transfer students said hello to their new homes and parted ways with families Sept. 4 as they arrived at California Baptist University ready to begin a lifetime of memories that started with Welcome Weekend.
Dr. Ronald L. Ellis, CBU president, welcomed the incoming CBU class of 2019, the largest class to date with approximately 1200 students, on the Front Lawn, and students met their First-year Orientation and Christian University Success groups with whom they would share the weekend.
Kelli Welzel, director of New Student Programs, shared the heart behind FOCUS groups and Welcome Weekend.
“In the midst of a big community, it is so important for people to feel connected to a small community,” she said. FOCUS groups give you an “initial community while you start out so you don’t feel alone and feel included.”
Welcome Weekend helps new freshmen and transfer students transition into life at CBU. Different sessions, such as the academic panel or the involvement fair, are designed to help students become more acquainted with the campus, as well as each other. FOCUS leaders meet with their groups throughout the first semester to go through life together and grow in their faith.
Jesse Chen, sophomore international studies major and FOCUS leader, shared how FOCUS helped him feel included during his freshman year.
“FOCUS really helped me in many areas, which included making friends and also simply having people to hang out with,” Chen said. “Some of my first friends were from FOCUS.”
Welzel describes FOCUS groups as a “second family.” Students know they always have someone looking out for them and to specifically answer their questions.
Friday morning, students moved into the nine housing options provided on campus.
“Moving into my dorm made me realize that I am an adult. I feel it will make my college experience more fun. “ said Hannah Davis, freshman photography major.
Sept. 5 and Sept. 6 began with times of worship and teaching before students ventured out into days full of fun activities and learning how to be a Lancer.
The academic panels and involvement fair taught new students how to navigate the challenges that college will bring, as well as how to enjoy the journey before them. Riddles and games bonded FOCUS groups together as they explored the campus.
Sept. 5 ended with a trip to LoanMart Field to cheer on the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes baseball team as they beat the Inland Empire 66ers. Students were able to experience more fun as the game ended with fireworks to light up the sky.
Sept. 6 was a day that went down in history, not only for new students, but for all of CBU. New students dressed in their least fashionable clashing outfits and joined on the Front Lawn to participate in an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the largest simultaneous dice game of Bunco. With 748 participants, the previous record of 250 was broken. Guinness records representative Philip Robertson was present to officiate the record.
A celebration was held afterwards with dessert food trucks and a disc jockey to keep the crowd dancing for hours. Harlan “H-Dog” Champoux, sophomore applied theology major and FOCUS leader, showed off his beatboxing skills and wowed students.
With a packed weekend of activities, many students enjoyed the opportunity to form new relationships and bonds with fellow studens.
“My favorite part of Welcome Weekend was all the opportunities that were given to create new friendships and get to know the campus a little bit better,” said Jacki McClellan, freshman liberal studies major.
For some people transitioning from high school to college, or transferring from another university, Welcome Weekend paves the way for a new beginning with new friends and promising results.
“I’m definitely glad I have a group of people to get to know and become close with during my first semester,” said Savannah Staver, freshman psychology major. “Everyone seems to get along really well, so I have a feeling it will be a great first semester.”