Avantis prepare for Bama Bound Orientation sessions

Avantis prepare for Bama Bound Orientation sessions
Jill Driver, a senior biology major, passes out pamphlets to incoming freshmen and their parents during an orientation session in the Ferguson ballroom Wednesday. / CW | Jerrod Seaton

Competition, time management and the creation of a new family are just three aspects new Avanti members face as they take the stage through the summer months to welcome new University students.

Danny Davidson, coordinator of orientation and special programs, said the overall process of becoming an Avanti is extremely competitive.

“It’s not an easy process,” Davidson said. “We had a ton of applications this year, and we end up hiring about 40 or so students. I will tell you that we probably have closer to four times that in applications.”

Students submit an application and are called in for two interviews, a group interview and then an individual interview if the student is called back.

“Once they’re selected, we contact them and let them know,” Davidson said. “We start with initial meetings with them, explaining what the process is.”

The students who are chosen are required to sign a contract explaining the extensive time commitment through the spring and summer months.

“We try to make it very clear to them that while we’re going to have a good time, we’re going to learn a lot, and there is a lot of work involved as well,” Davidson said.

Christi Cowan, a new Avanti member and a senior majoring in journalism and French, said she’s excited about being selected.

“It something that I’ve always wanted to do since I did Bama Bound,” Cowan said. “I always thought that it would be fun to help people at orientation.”

Jill Driver, also a new member and a senior majoring in biology, said the experience has been a positive one so far.

“I would recommend it to people, because it’s something good to get involved with,” Driver said. “You’re mostly around positive people all day, and it’s a good way to develop leadership skills.”

Avantis attended the Southern Regional Orientation Workshop beginning in March, with members training from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. every Tuesday through the spring semester.

“We do various training with them, whether it is specifically for Bama Bound or some song, skit and dance-type preparation,” Davidson said. “We continue that Tuesday training all the way through April.”

Cowan said the sessions were situational training and they also allowed Avanti team members to receive information about the CrimsonRide, Bama Dining and Housing and Residential Communities.

“It was like ‘what you do if this happens, or what you do if you get this question,’” Cowan said. “We had a lot of people come talk to us and give us flyers and advice. It was so we had information to give to students so that they would know everything that they need to know when they come here.”

After a break in April, Avanti members came back the week before the first Bama Bound orientation to an intensive weeklong training program called Orientation Mania. The week started with a retreat Monday morning that lasted until Tuesday afternoon.

Davidson said the program is a great way for students to learn about themselves and learn some leadership along the way.

“I think it’s just a great program, and it’s a leadership program,” Davidson said. “They’re getting to know a lot about the campus through the process, and they’re getting to know a lot about themselves as to what type of individuals they are.”

Driver said her favorite part was making a whole new family among the new members.

“We are assigned little families, and we’re always with that family,” Driver said. “We’re kind of matched up to where our personalities go well together in the groups, so you get to meet new people that you wouldn’t probably meet. You make really good friends.”

Along with learning about themselves, students are able to give back to the University.

“Some of the valuable things that they get out of it would be the camaraderie, the friendship and the family atmosphere that the team has,” Davidson said. “Most Avantis all have a heart for service, and they’re serving their University. I think, of all the programs on campus, it’s one of the best as far as preparing for future jobs and learning about the campus, as well as learning about yourself.”

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