Good News Bears Part 1
Mitch VincentSenior, civil engineering major
Head bear Mitch Vincent, better known to incoming freshmen as “Bob Barker,” leads the “The Price is Right” themed festivities for every freshmen orientation. This summer marks Vincent’s fourth with the Good News Bears.
After his own freshmen orientation four years ago Vincent told his parents, “I want to be a Good News Bear,” and for several summers he has lived up to his vow.
Although he works every day, Vincent finds time for his weekly visit to Northern. “We’re working, but it never feels like work. It’s like a three-day weekend. Plus, there are always cookies involved.”
A self-proclaimed “morning person,” Vincent enjoys mingling with the new students and their parents on orientation morning. “I like to help ease the tension,” he says, “It’s really the first time they’re separated, so I want to make the parents and students feel comfortable.”
Vincent feels the best advice for new freshmen is to stay on campus. “Don’t go home all the time because you will never really feel like you’re in college. Your freshmen year will probably be one of your best. Enjoy it.”
New students always want to know what to do at ONU. He says, “Freshmen always ask ‘What do I do here—it’s all corn?’ We have nationally ranked athletics, free student events, and performances. There is a lot to do; you just have to be willing to get out there and do it.”
Even though it’s only her second year as a Good News Bear, Cynthia Nguyen is already getting her “paws” wet as an assistant head bear. “I’m a momma bear in training,” she joked.
“I did something similar to Good News Bears in high school and it was a neat experience. I just wanted to jump in and do the same here at ONU,” says Nguyen. “Good News Bears serve as a link between the new students and their new experience, which I think is soothing.”
As one of three assistant bears, Nguyen rotates between the different stations during orientation. Her favorite, however, is the think tank. “The think tank is a no-holds-barred panel. There are no parents, so it’s really a comfortable atmosphere for the students to ask questions. You never know what they’re going to ask.”
For Nguyen, the transition between freshman and sophomore years is remarkable. “I love to see the ones who come back to be Good News Bears. They have so much more confidence.”
When it comes to advice, Nguyen believes saying hi to people is always a good place to start. “Try new things. Be open-minded.”
Until next summer when she assumes the role of head bear, Nguyen is working full-time, taking summer classes, and playing ultimate Frisbee. “It’s nice to get away from work,” she says. “I really do think of ONU as a second home.”
Nathan ConleyJunior, psychology major
Upper Sandusky, Ohio
Nathan Conley is a familiar face on ONU’s campus this summer. Not only is he a Good News Bear, he helps with Summer Honors Institute camps and works in the mailroom. Thus, he’s the perfect person to help new students get acquainted with the University.
“I really love Northern,” he says. “Joining the Good News Bear just seemed like a logical step.”
While his favorite part is meeting the new students and talking to their families, Conley enjoys the total Good News Bear experience. “I get so excited on Thursdays because that’s when all the Bears arrive on campus. We just have fun together. We’re really like a family.”
As far as wise words go, Conley tells new freshmen to take their time. “Don’t rush things,” he says. “There will be a lot coming at you the first few weeks. Get adjusted to your classes and campus and the people, and then decide what you want to get involved with.”
Conley says he definitely hopes to return next summer. “I love it. I could make a career of being a Good News Bear. Northern has been good to me. It’s the least I can do.”
Kelly Jensen, first-year Bear, agrees that sophomores are a vital part of the Good News Bears program.” It’s really good for sophomores to get involved because they’re the closest to the freshmen. They remember pretty clearly what it was like, but they have a year of college experience to draw upon.”
Jensen enjoys sharing her sophomore wisdom with incoming freshmen. “I like to meet the new faces,” she says. “The freshmen really are the future of ONU.”
It was the influence of new friends that drew Jensen to the Good News Bears initially. “I talked to a few of the Good News Bears when I came for orientation and I ended up becoming good friends with some. Everyone was very welcoming.”
While her busy work schedule makes it difficult for Jensen to see her ONU friends during the summer, she is reunited with them in Good News Bears. “We always have fun when we’re here for orientation, and it’s a great time to see everyone. I definitely want to be a Good News Bear next year.”
Jensen encourages freshmen to branch out, saying, “Get involved because that’s really how you’re going to connect with the University. Meet as many people as you can.”
“Bear” with us . . . part two of “Good News Bears Orient New Students with Fun and Friendships” is coming soon!
Written by: Autumn Steiner '09
Professional writing major