Students who, only a few days before, didn’t know one another’s names cheered their teammates to victory in a rigorous game of water balloon dodgeball. The hot July day on the green lawn of Houston Baptist University’s library served as a fun ending to a week of events, and a light-hearted start to the students’ higher educational journeys.
The Academic Success Center has coordinated a welcome week for incoming freshmen since 2015. The 2017 Summer Launch from July 9-14 had the largest turnout to date.
Margaret Humphreys, HBU director of academic success, said, “Summer Launch is so important to entering students’ HBU experience. It is a team effort across the University, and we’re excited that we’re growing.”
Throughout the week, the young adults are grouped with upperclassmen mentors who offer guidance on transitioning into college life. HBU Junior Paul Arce was one of the mentors who worked with younger students.
During a morning devotional program, Arce exhorted students: “As you start college, don’t stop confessing, worshiping, loving and pursuing your relationship with God. God is with you.”
Daily agendas included small group meetings, academic sessions, a campus site scavenger hunt and fun activities like the dodgeball tournament. The schedule was centered around building relationships and creating familiarity with HBU.
Student Alexa Vazquez described the week as an amazing experience. “I was accepted to college out-of-state, but when HBU said they’d give me a chance to come here, it was the greatest thing I could have done,” she said. “At first, I thought, ‘I don’t know if I’m ready for college.’ This has made me feel ready.”
For Caleb Helms, the time with fellow students inspired confidence. “I said my first group prayer this week,” he said. “Before this week, I didn’t know anybody and I was nervous. Now, I’m ready and excited and can’t wait.”
Each student ideally leaves Summer Launch with anticipation for an education encompassing academic rigor, Christian faith and new friends. They also have an introduction to the many staff members working together to help them, Humphreys said.
Arce said he wanted to see students find their niche. “For me, it means a lot to be at HBU. I love the people,” he said. “I hope students know they can succeed. They have the help and resources that they need.”