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Orientation day to serve native Spanish-speaking parents

The Orientation and Transition Programs (OTP) office started to supply bilingual orientation leaders to translate for parents who did not speak English. This year, OTP will devote an entire orientation day in Spanish for native-speaking parents June 22 on UNG's Gainesville Campus.

When Udis Calderon attended New Student Orientation (NSO) at the University of North Georgia (UNG), he came alone.

"I had to go by myself because my parents did not speak English," he said.

Calderon was not the only first-generation college student and native Spanish speaker to arrive without parents. UNG staff in the Orientation and Transition Programs (OTP) office took notice of the rising trend. OTP started to supply bilingual orientation leaders, such as Adriana Zarate, to translate for parents.

"I would just pull the parents aside and tell them the information in Spanish," said Zarate, a rising senior pursuing a degree in kinesiology.

This act was the first step of an evolving process. Last year, OTP used a three-hour block to deliver orientation in Spanish. This year, OTP will devote an entire orientation day in Spanish for native-speaking parents June 22 on UNG's Gainesville Campus. This follows suit with orientations designed specifically for new students, transfer students, and readmit students.

OTP Director Darcy Hayes said many departments will contribute to the plan, with faculty, staff and students scheduled to deliver the information in Spanish.

Calderon, who is an orientation leader, believes the session will positively impact students' academics and extracurricular pursuits. Zarate, who was on the committee that developed the program, agreed.

"A lot of the parents know some basic English, but college has a whole different vocabulary," Zarate said. "If we explain the college lifestyle to parents in their language, they will take the initiative to stay involved with their student and know about their responsibilities."

Hayes said the Spanish-speaking orientation in June will mirror the other orientation days, which introduce students to their campus and the college lifestyle. The day's schedule includes sessions on student resources, academic policies, financial aid, academic advising, extracurricular activities like student groups, the transition process from high school to college and next steps.

Calderon, a senior pursuing a degree in communications with a concentration in public relations, is looking forward to that day.

"Many students who come to UNG are first-generation students like myself; therefore, the college experience is entirely new to them," said the El Salvador native who lives in Gainesville, Georgia. "I believe it is vital to encourage the parents to take part in the college experience, and what better way to do that than have an orientation for the students and their families?"

Zarate said it shows UNG's commitment to the growing Latino population.

"Not a lot of universities have Spanish orientation sessions," said the first-generation student from Gainesville, Georgia. "UNG is looking at the demographics of our campus and catering to a large population of Latino students. It's a smart thing to do, and it connects UNG to the community."

Hayes said it is just one more step toward the future.

"We hope to expand the program as the need increases on other UNG campuses," she said. "And we anticipate the Latino population to increase in future years at least through 2025 and most likely beyond."

Orientation dates

New Student Orientation dates

  • Blue Ridge: July 24 and Aug. 8
  • Cumming: June 19 and 20; July 10 and 24; Aug. 8
  • Dahlonega: June 13-14 and June 17-18; July 8-9; July 11-12; July 15-16; July 17 (commuters only); and Aug. 10
  • Gainesville: June 21, 22 and 24; July 13 and 22; Aug. 5 and 6
  • Oconee: July 19 and 20; Aug. 2 and 3

Transfer Student Orientation

  • Blue Ridge: July 24 and Aug. 8
  • Cumming: July 10 and Aug. 8
  • Dahlonega: June 12, July 18 and Aug. 10
  • Gainesville: July 23 and Aug. 7
  • Oconee: June 7, July 20 and Aug. 2

To register for the mandatory orientation session, visit the Orientation and Transition Programs webpage.

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