James Madison University

Psychology Majors Assist Students’ Transition to JMU

By Erik Inglis
Posted: October 14, 2015

As a new student on campus, be it as a first-year student or as a transfer student, navigating campus can be daunting. Step one foot out of your residence hall, and you may feel like returning to the comfort of your own room. So where is a new student to turn for guidance? Enter FROGs (First-yeaR Orientation Guides), ANTs (Assisting New Transfer Students), and OPAs (Orientation Peer Advisers). These are experienced students who have also weathered that opening week rush and are now lending a hand to help future Dukes transition to JMU.

PHOTO: O-team

Braden Bean is a senior psychology major who transferred to James Madison from Lord Fairfax Community College and spent last summer as an ANT. Admittedly reserved, Braden was unsure whether his message would resonate with incoming transfers. Would his advice come across as “cheesy”? But a 1787 August Orientation schedule full of activities helped to alleviate these concerns. And these activities go far beyond your ordinary icebreakers. Indeed, 1787 August Orientation is replete with enthralling entertainment including dancing, pep rallies, late-night comedians, and even a block party that featured balloon artists, a bouncy castle, DJ’s, downtown shops, and great eats. Suffice it to say that JMU knows how to welcome their new Dukes.

Jae Kim, a junior psychology major from Centreville and former FROG, spent the past summer as an OPA. Jae counts his work with Orientation as one of his most rewarding experiences. Jae, who credits his psychology education with helping him to feel more comfortable in this group dynamic, asserts, “I always tell people that psychology is one of the few majors that can be applicable to just about any field.” Breann Staples, a senior psychology major and a FROG, related her experience with Orientation to her schooling, “I had never previously been put into such a demanding leadership role as I was in during 1787 August Orientation… Being accepted into this position made me a better psychology major by showing me that good things take work and that flexibility is key. It is going to take time and effort to make my time here at JMU as a psychology major worth it in the end.”

Through their experiences, FROGs, ANTs, and OPAs learn a lot about their peers, new students, and themselves. Robby Smith, a senior and former OPA, provided this advice for all psychology majors, “Whenever you work with people, psychology is beneficial because it gives you a better perspective of how people tend to operate. Enjoy your time here and embrace your education!” In a similar vein, Maria Restrepo-Chavez, a FROG and junior from Ashburn, stated boldly, “Get involved!” Braden added that for many students it may seem like their plate is full, but that becoming involved in campus life can be worthwhile.

Braden, who referred to his fellow ANTs as some of his closest friends, fondly recalled an experience he had with a new student who he first met at Orientation. After spotting Braden in his Orientation garb, the student stopped him, offered her thanks and punctuated her appreciation by adding, “Just wanted to say this is the best school ever!” A fleeting comment that had a lasting impact, just like the lasting impact Braden, Maria, Jae, Robby, Breann and other FROGs, ANTs, and OPAs have on the newest JMU students.