Indiana State University Newsroom

Students recognized at regional orientation directors conference

March 18, 2014

Three Indiana State University students received awards at the Region 7 National Orientation Directors Association conference.rn

Mariah Longyear and Christa Whitehurst both received undergraduate-level awards and Matthew Swingler received an award at the graduate level.

The conference took place at Ohio State University and included universities from Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and Ontario.

Throughout the conference, students were placed into small groups and given a scenario in which they had to come up with a solution. Groups then presented their proposed solution to a panel of judges who awarded the best one.

Longyear received the best communication award. The sophomore dietetics major from Terre Haute serves as a Welcome Team coordinator for the ISU's New Student Transition Program. She helps facilitate new student orientation, move-in weekend and fall welcome week.

"College can be a make it or break it time for many students and new student transition programs programming and resources to assist in this transition," she said.

Whitehurst received the best problem solving award. The junior elementary education major from Mooresville also serves as a Welcome Team coordinator. She said she learned a lot of ways Indiana State can "fine-tune" their new student transition programs.

"In my sessions we talked a lot about things we already do which is reassurance that ISU and other institutions are doing the right things to be successful," Whitehurst said.

Swingler received the overall award for the graduate level. His group was assigned the task of solving issues related to first-year students and retention rates. The Montrose, Ill. native who is in the master's degree program in human resource development works as a graduate assistant in the admissions office.

He said that the awards given to Indiana State students prove the new student transition program's ability to "assess and improve issues that could arise within our institution."

"All students face some type of speed bump in their transition from high school to college," Swingler said. "Our office and our programs are able to assist with those issues."

All three students agree that the new student transition program training they have received from Indiana State staff contributed to their success at the NODA conference.

"It was awesome to see Indiana State students win awards in three different categories," Longyear said. "I think it speaks of the great training and support we have."

Whitehurst agreed that the awards demonstrated Indiana State's successful new student transition programming.

"It's exciting because it shows that we are doing really cool things at ISU," she said. "It validates everything we do."

Writer: Emily Sturgess, media relations assistant, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3773 or