NSU’s First Year Experience welcomes new demons


Chris Reich

The 2023 Freshman Connection Team is ready for a Northwestern State University of Louisiana summer.

“Anything that pertains to a student’s first year, you’ll find it right here in this office,” Mary-Katherine Horton said, introducing herself as the Director of Fraternal Leadership and Civic Engagement, as well as director for Greek Life and First Year Experience.

The FYE office is neatly located on the first floor of the Student Services building.

Horton emphasizes the importance of a student’s first year. “The first year experience is getting students here and then keeping them here, making sure that they’re having an excellent experience in their first year.”

Horton knows that students often need a lot of help during this time, which is why FYE can be so important in helping incoming freshmen navigate their first year.

Here are the biggest things to look out for in the coming months as Northwestern State University of Louisiana prepares for its summer semester.

“Our biggest event in the summer is Freshman Connection, which is our orientation program. We have four sessions; three overnight sessions and one one-day session,” Horton said. “And it spans for May, June and July. We welcome all of the new incoming freshmen, first-year students or sometimes transfer students here at Northwestern so that we can get them acclimated to our campus.”

Freshman Connection helps students connect, and in the professional world which many graduating seniors are now looking forward to, connections are important.

“They will get to know their professors, their academic advisors, they’ll get to know our staff members, they’ll get to know other students in their classes, upperclassmen, they’ll just get to meet a lot of people who will help make Northwestern State a home for them,” Horton said.

Horton also wants freshmen to know about Demon Days, “a series of fun and free events designed to welcome new and returning students to Northwestern State. Demon Days begins with Move-In and continues throughout the fall!” according to the NSULA website.

But we cannot forget about the work behind the scenes. Many upperclassmen know that Freshman Connection would not be so successful without the help of student workers and volunteers.

“I could not do without my student workers and volunteers and my freshman connectors. So the freshman connectors are orientation leaders. So they go through a course in order to become orientation leaders and they get hired onto the team.” Horton said. “So any student in Northwestern can apply to be a Demon volunteer. We bring them in the summer for Freshman Connection. They’re really like the backbone of the program.”

Horton does their part in reminding incoming freshmen of the events hosted over the summer. “We send personalized emails to all incoming students at Northwestern saying, ‘Hey, it’s time to register for Freshman Connection!’ And we continuously send those emails. And the next step always includes registering for Freshman Connection, in order to have an idea of what your fall will look like we always say come to Freshman Connection. It is the best way to meet people and to get acclimated to this campus.”

Many outreach opportunities are made for freshmen before the big day. “We also send postcards, ‘Save the Day’, we actually mail these out to all incoming students…So we try very hard to get the word out with emails, postcards, and social media pushes. So yeah, we really try hard to get the word out.”

However, FYE isn’t the only group on campus that hosts events during summer. The Dear School of Creative and Performing Arts is notorious for its Dinner Theater. “That’s like one of my most favorite things on campus, is to go to the Dinner Theater. And then I know that the WRAC has fun and fitness camp,” Horton said.

“To our current students, it’s not too late to get involved on campus, you could start now in the summer,” Horton said. “For incoming students, I want to say get out of your comfort zone and come to Freshman Connection…We want to show you our campus and we want to get you excited to come here so that when you’re here in the fall, you already have friends.”

Mary Katherine Horton wants to leave every student with advice for the upcoming summer months. Attend these events, “So it’s not as much of a jump scare when you get here in the fall.”