Looking back on two weeks and more than 200 events, Weeks of Welcome student leader Jamal Ross sums up the experience in one word: “Worthwhile.”

“It's been a delight to utilize my personal experiences and anecdotes to introduce incoming students to the lively culture of Virginia Tech and their new home,” said Ross, a senior pursuing dual degrees in political science and philosophy, politics, and economics.

“Seeing their enthusiasm and hearing their questions about participating in experiential activities held by New Student and Family Programs [NSFP] has allowed me to develop leadership skills and continues to draw me back year after year" Ross continued. "Being a Weeks of Welcome leader has played an important role in my Virginia Tech experience. Working with NSFP has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Ross is one of 42 students who has been working with NSFP since early August to organize and execute the Weeks of Welcome extravaganza, which started with move-in on Aug. 15 and culminates in Gobblerfest this Friday, Sept. 2, from 4 to 7 p.m. on the Drillfield.

“Our goal is to welcome first-year students in a way that is meaningful and gives them opportunities to make connections in the campus community,” said Gabby McCollum, associate dean and director of New Student and Family Programs, a unit within Student Affairs. “We have done this in the most inclusive, accessible, and fun way possible.”

The Weeks of Welcome events were designed to fulfill at least one of our four themes: educate, entertain, empower, and engage. There have been big and small events. Some were required for all first-year, transfer, and international students.

“It's exciting that we have continuously seen large turnouts for events even with the efforts we’ve made to expand capacities,” said McCollum. “For example, at Casino Night, we doubled the number of tables from last year, and we still had a line out the door and the tables were full all night. We hope with each year to make our most popular events even more accessible to the enthusiastic crowds they bring.” 

Gobblerfest, now in its 14th year, is the university’s annual rain-or-shine festival welcoming students back to campus. It has become a tradition of the start of the academic year. It was first conceived in fall 2008 as a way for students to connect with organizations. It has grown to include staff, faculty, and members of the Blacksburg community. Gobblerfest’s student organization information booths are designed to educate students and the community about the many ways to get involved and meet people at Virginia Tech. More than 700 booths, live performances, and rides make this a must-attend event.

Gobblerfest is hosted by Student Engagement and Campus Life in Student Affairs. The Gobblerfest website includes a map of the festival layout and lists of student organizations, departments, nonprofits, and businesses that will take part in the event.

Though Weeks of Welcome officially ends with Gobblerfest, the calendar includes details on upcoming New Student and Family Programs events, such as Fall Family Weekend on Sept. 16-18.

The full schedule and event details are available in the “My First Year 2022” guidebook, located in the Hokies On Track mobile app. 

Heidi Klockenbrink contributed to this article.

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