Freshmen FLIP over Rowan program

While today officially marks the beginning of college for some 1,000 incoming freshmen who are moving into dormitories, about 60 freshmen had a head start when they moved in Monday to participate in a student-led leadership program.

Affectionately known by students as FLIP for short, the Freshman Leadership Interest Program was the brainchild of Student Government Association (SGA) President Mike Ward, who along with 12 executive board members from the SGA ran the three-day program.

Ward, a senior from Wayne who served as the student trustee on the university board of trustees last year, said the SGA organized the program in the absence of similar leadership programs that have existed in the past.

In fact, it was a freshman leadership program that Ward credits for getting him involved in student government when he was a wide-eyed freshman moving to Glassboro from Passaic County.

"I definitely wouldn't be the person I am today if I hadn't had the opportunity when I first came here to be exposed to all of the leadership opportunities there are on campus," Ward said.

Ward's philosophy is simple: people have more fun when they are involved.

So the three-day program was designed to expose a select group of 60 incoming freshman to as many leadership opportunities as possible on campus.

Programming designed to teach leadership skills, encourage team building and diversity filled the schedule for three days that Ward said left plenty of time for interaction and exposure to the campus, but little time for anything else.

By the third day, Sara Tsivikis, an advertising major from Tuckerton and Kate Nowlan, an elementary education/writing communications major from Haddon Heights, had spent so much time together they were completing each other's sentences.

"I've made a lot of friends," said Nowlan, who was involved in everything in high school from drama to cheerleading. "It's opened up a lot of doors for me already."

Tsivikis said she discovered a variety of ways to get involved like the school's ambassador program.

"It's not just student government," she said. "There's so many things you can do."

Dave Suarez, a Paul VI graduate who will be commuting from Sicklerville, said the conference has broadened his world view and opened up his mind.

Following a group session where students shared past stories and experiences in leadership, Suarez and his classmates grouped themselves into geographical areas inside a duct-tape outline of New Jersey.

Sunglasses covering his eyes, Suarez walked over to his spot eagerly engaging the other students who in addition to being neighbors are now classmates.

"I'm just trying to take everything in," Suarez said.

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Date Published: Thursday, August 31, 2006 - 01:00