More than 2,200 students became new Lancers at California Baptist University’s annual Welcome Weekend, making up the biggest incoming class in CBU history.
Approximately 1,700 freshman and 500 transfer students participated in Welcome Weekend. The theme of the weekend was “Everyday Courage,” in an effort to encourage new students to have confidence in this new transition.
During all of the Welcome Weekend events students are with their First-Year Orientation and Christian University Success leaders, or FOCUS.
“(This is) the largest incom- ing class CBU has ever had. We’ve run out of beds on cam- pus, but we’re really excited for population growth,” said Gavin Andrews, director of FOCUS.
Freshmen began moving into on-campus living areas Aug. 30 with the assistance of their parents, family and FOCUS leaders.
Freshmen attended Purpose Sessions in the Events Center with their FOCUS groups where they heard messages and played games based on the theme, “Everyday Courage.”
They also participated in the Kugel walk, the CBU tradition in which students touch the Kugel, become offcial Lancers and commit to CBU’s mission statement of the Great Commission.
The Office of Leadership and Transitions intentionally tries to keep students in their FOCUS groups to make sure everyone is making friends.
Andrews said the first day was his favorite part.
“All the move-in, all the excitement, all the energy that was there on that first day everything was great,” Andrews said. “It was a little chaotic but lots of fun, great to see the energy on campus again.”
Over the course of Welcome Weekend, students attended the “Meet the Inland Empire” event where they were able to connect with churches, attractions and businesses near CBU.
The third annual “Lancers and Beyond” event also drew more than 1,500 students to Bed, Bath & Beyond for 20 percent o their entire purchase.
Arcade Coffee also served lavender and vanilla lattes after a worship night led by Citizens & Saints.
Jake Kirkendall, freshman business major, said the concert was his favorite part of the weekend.
“The concert was really well done, everybody got involved and it was a really cool night,” Kirkendall said.
Another highlight was the Involvement Fair held at the Recreation Center, where incoming Lancers learned about all the opportunities to get involved on campus.
Connor Pacharis, junior business administration major and freshman FOCUS leader, said his favorite part of the weekend was the time he got to spend with his FOCUS group.
“My (FOCUS) partner and I loved spending time with (the new students) and getting to know them,” Pacharis said. “They’re a super-fun group.”
Lorenzo Benefield, freshman electrical and computer engineering major, said his FOCUS leaders were vital by integrating him into campus life.
“I got to meet a whole bunch of people in my class that I probably would not have met without (Welcome Weekend),” Benefield said. “My FOCUS leaders were influential in helping me meet others.”
The weekend finished with the annual Clash n’ Roll event Sept. 3. This year, Clash n’ Roll was opened to all undergraduate students to provide a more inclusive atmosphere.
Transfers find new home on CBU’s campus
California Baptist University inaugurated the year for new transfer students with several activities from Welcome Weekend.
This event takes place the weekend before the first week of school to get new students comfortable and prepared for the semesters to come.
During Welcome Weekend, students get tours of the campus and experience different activities all while enjoying their new campus. The event is a way for transfers to feel welcomed by students and staff while feeling connected to their new school.
Heather Hubbert, assistant dean of students, said the event is a way for students to feel more connected to CBU.
“The whole point of Welcome Weekend is we want them to feel welcomed and a part of this community from day one,” Hubbert said. “We’re really intentional with all the programs that we do.”
Hubbert said once school starts, transfers take a survey to find out their interests.
“Our FOCUS leaders are really essential to plugging them into what they’re interested in,” Hubbert said. “So if they want to be on an intramural team, we do a FOCUS football intramural team.”
Each student participates in a FOCUS group and is able to socialize among other transfers and FOCUS leaders to get more involved with the university and what it offers.
Kimberly Gledhill, junior sociology major, said being a FOCUS leader for freshmen and transfer students differentiates in the way she tries to relate and connect with each group of students.
“Helping transfers get connected to the university is helpful because a lot of them are commuters,” Gledhill said. “We, as FOCUS leaders, provide our resources for students to help connect them to the university and to each other. We want to provide a really welcoming environment to get to know each other and get to know us.”
Gledhill also said there are many transfer students, all with different ages, goals and former schools.
“A lot of the transfers are older and sometimes in different stages in life,” Gledhill said. “Meeting them where they’re at and connecting with them and helping them connect with other students is really helpful, as well.”
Vivian Rodriguez, junior film major and transfer from Mount San Jacinto College, said the FOCUS groups made her feel comfortable.
“We just talked and got to know each other,” Rodriguez said. “It was not pressuring at all. It was casual and really welcoming.”
Throughout the weekend, the new students were able to build friendships and become more personal with one another.
Josue Delgadillo, junior exercise science major and transfer from La Sierra University, said starting a new school is always an adjustment for students.
“The event makes me feel like a freshman again,” Delgadillo said.
Overall, Welcome Weekend was an experience for new students to enjoy, learn and get connected. Students walked away ready to begin their journey at CBU.
This event occurs during the weekened before classes begin of every school year so students get to learn about the university before the semester officially begins.
Alumni reflect on their own first weekend
“There was a Christian camp vibe to California Baptist University,” said Frank Mihelich, associate professor of theatre at CBU. “I went to CBU before CBU was really cool — now I look around and everyone is hip.”
Mihelich went to CBU in the ’90s, before there was a Welcome Weekend. Back then there was a new student orientation, and it happened the week before classes started. New students registered for classes, went on a retreat, attended a baseball game and had plenty of other bonding opportunities with new and returning students.
The addition of Welcome Weekend did not occur until 2015.
“What we have now is the weekend event where we really want to welcome new students and their families to the school,” said Anthony Lammons, dean of students. “We still have an orientation day that also helps us welcome them to school and register for classes, but now it’s during the summer.”
CBU alumni recalled the days before the modern Welcome Weekend. Gone are the trips to an Los Angeles Angels baseball game and a mountain retreat as a part of orientation. Now, students have to sign up for the retreat and the baseball game as a part of CBU’s The Women Is Required To Pay (TWIRP) event.
Lammons said the reason for the change is because of the increase in students.
“With the growth of CBU we had to make changes, including taking away favorites like the retreat,” Lammons said. “We have more than 2,000 new students and there just aren’t places that can accommodate that amount of people.”
The retreat was a highlight for many of CBU’s alumni including Garret Replogle, theater shop foreman.
“I remember it was a really cool worship experience, a lot of chapel time. A lot of the activities were optional but they had a huge amount of things planned,” Replogle said.
New student orientation can lead students to make lifelong friends. or relationships, as it did for Mihelich.
“I met my wife the first night of orientation,” Mihelich said. “I met her father first; he was helping my roommate move in. When her father heard that I didn’t have any family coming to the dinner that night, he invited me to join him, and his two daughters and my roommate, and that’s how we met.”
Over the years, CBU began reaching out to parents and families to help bring them into their child’s journey.
“The aim toward families happened gradually,” Lammons said. “We wanted to show them the kind of a school they were sending their children to.”
While there have been many changes over the years in the way CBU welcomes new students, the underlying message is still the same.
“It all comes down to ‘We want you here, and we want you to feel welcomed here,’” Lammons said. “That’s been our message from the start.”