Proud Profs: PROS offer expertise, support to new students, parents

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Call Katie Cesario a PROS pro.

“I want new students to love Rowan University as much as I do,” gushes Cesario, a senior history major from Hazlet. “I want to help them get super duper involved and to experience the University to their fullest potential.”

Cesario is one of 37 undergraduates who form the PROS (Peer Referral and Orientation Staff), a group of carefully selected and trained students that helps new students and their parents as they become part of the University community. The PROS work Orientation and Welcome Week, using their expertise and training to ensure that students receive the information and supports they need to get acclimated to Rowan.

This summer, the PROS are working 12 Orientation sessions—eight for freshman, three for transfer student and one for international students--plus Welcome Weekend. Chosen through a rigorous interview process, the PROS undergo more than 80 hours of training from February through June. Once Orientation sessions begin, they sometimes work from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. daily to assist new students and parents.

Passionate about Rowan

“They work many, many hours a day, but they always have a positive attitude and high energy,” says Drew Tinnin, director of the Office of Orientation and Student Leadership Programs (OSLP). “The PROS are really passionate about Rowan. They’re proud of their University and willing to help others.”

According to Tinnin, OSLP receives 130 applications each year for the PROS. Applicants go through a screening process that includes a public speaking exercise and two teamwork activities. The pool then is reduced to between 50 and 60 students. Those potential PROS then complete an interview process that includes an OSLP staffer and a returning PROS member. Having a PROS member included in the interview process is invaluable, says Tinnin.

“That helps build staff teamwork. If a fellow PROS member has helped with your interview process, they’re also invested in your success,” says Tinnin, adding that he’s not surprised by the number of students looking to join the PROS.

“Rowan has some very, very involved student leaders. They are exceedingly proud of the University.”

In choosing PROS, diversity is key, according to Tinnin.

“We have an array of personality types. We’re looking for a very diverse and representative group,” he says.

Building teamwork, pride

During this year’s Orientation, 26 PROS are with 2,400 students every step of the way—from their 9 a.m. check-in on Day One all the way through to the Class of 2018 induction ceremony on the afternoon of Day Two. In between, they’re providing personal attention as they shepherd students to sessions that cover everything from succeeding academically to making healthy choices to taking advantage of student services.

Most importantly, PROS build teamwork and pride among their student groups as they serve as go-to sources of information and support for new students embarking on their collegiate careers, says Cesario, a second-year PROS member whose campus involvement includes serving as a resident assistant and working for Student University Programmers and Rowan After Hours.

“All 30-something of us love what we do and we want to help new students out,” says Cesario. “We want them to feel like they’re home. We want them to leave the second day thinking, ‘I definitely made the right choice.’”

That goes for parents as well. This year, five PROS will work with more than 2,200 parents and family members, giving them their own introductions to Rowan during Parent and Family Orientation, which runs simultaneously with student Orientation.

“Parents always come in with very specific questions, which is great,” says Tinnin. “We’re here to serve students and their parents as they join the Rowan family. It’s a job we love.”

For information on the PROS, visit http://www.rowan.edu/studentaffairs/orientation/pros/

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