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University celebrates new school year with Welcome Week

Welcome Week 2013 - Gainesville
Students on the Gainesville Campus visited Welcome Tables to ask questions and learn about the campus and upcoming events.

In celebration of the new school year at the University of North Georgia, students, faculty, staff, and community members have been coming together on all four campuses to welcome new students and showcase the opportunities available to them. Preliminary data show the university has enrolled about 16,000 students this fall, including some 3,100 freshmen.

Oconee Campus Cookout
The Oconee Campus celebrated with a Welcome Back Cookout.

"Welcome Week makes a statement right out of the gate that college is about more than just taking classes," said Dr. Eric Skipper, CEO of the Oconee Campus. "The impact of higher education is largely determined by participation in academic as well as extra-curricular activities, such as the Oconee Campus cookout, which brings students together informally to promote a sense of unity."

Students of the Oconee Campus were welcomed back with a cookout on the quad on as The Office of Student Involvement invited them for free food and music by the a cappella group Ball in the House.

For the first few days of classes on the Dahlonega and Gainesville campuses, faculty and staff populated welcome tents to greet students distribute student handbooks and answer questions.

"The transition to the new school year seems even more complicated than when I began," said Andre Gonzalez, student president of the Latino Student Association and a SOAR leader; SOAR is the orientation program for the Gainesville Campus. "So while we're handing out planners and event info, we're also making sure each interaction is positive, and the students are happy to talk to us about campus interests and upcoming events."

Anna Bennett, a freshman, said the atmosphere on the campus has been great, and the welcoming events—especially SOAR—have been very helpful, as she has been able to meet peers and several of her professors. She added that this was particularly useful to her, as she was homeschooled previously.

Nighthawks on the Square
Students in Dahlonega for Nighthawks on the Square.

Nighthawks on the Square was a hit in downtown Dahlonega as local businesses gathered under tents to welcome students and university employees with information, music, food, and other free giveaways.

"This is a great opportunity to help Dahlonega and UNG," said Sarah Miller, whose Alpharetta-based company sponsored her to attend the event. "I love the sense of community here, and I wish I had gone to college in a town like this. I heard about the event last year, so I am excited to help out this year."

Miller's husband, Sgt. 1st Class Phillip Miller, is a military science instructor at UNG's Dahlonega Campus.

Dahlonega also hosted the First Saturday of Service, during which students worked on many community service projects throughout the city and Lumpkin County.

"The First Saturday of Service is a wonderful time for all students at UNG," said Jenny Davila, president of UNG Serves, a new student organization focused on community service. "It gives students an opportunity to make new friends at the beginning of each school year, and it also kicks off the start of a new year to serve our community. Many students love to participate in this event, and I think it will continue to grow each year."

Saturday of Service
Students volunteer for the First Saturday of Service.

Still to come is the Weeks of Welcome Picnic, Club and Vendor Fair, which will be held on the Gainesville Campus from noon to 1 p.m. and 5-6 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 28. Students can enjoy a picnic and find out about student organizations at the Student Center quad. T-shirts will be handed out at this event.

Also coming up is a chance for Oconee students to enjoy pizza on the quad with UNG President Bonita Jacobs as she welcomes students for the fall semester. The event will be held Wednesday, Aug. 28 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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