DISORIENTATION: GETTING READY TO RE-ENTER THE REAL WORLD By Sujata Massey This week, as incoming undergraduates hurdle the frenzied schedule that typically makes up freshman orientation, seniors are going through the opposite process: Hopkins' first-ever disorientation. Chris Drennen and Emilie Salama, student co-chairs of "Disorientation '94," say the tongue-in-cheek title of their two-and-a-half-day event refers to the good times of freshman year, and the choices awaiting them as they leave Johns Hopkins. Overall, the program is an ambitious attempt to expand senior togetherness and get them mentally ready to re-enter the outside world. "Before, Senior Week was just a week at the beach and a walk across a stage in a black robe," said Salama, who is secretary of the Homewood student council executive board. "We are trying to reacquaint the senior class with each other. After freshman orientation, classes split you up; then it's the housing. This is a chance for the engineering majors to reacquaint with biology majors." Drennen, who serves as the faculty programs coordinator for the student council, hopes the newly rebonded class will be stimulated by Disorientation's dizzying array of seminars on life and career choices. The seminars will be presented by alumni and others whose careers range from novelist/lawyer to music critic and restaurateur. "A lot of people think there's just a single path, but the alumni we are bringing in show there really is no traditional path," Drennen said. "My single biggest dream is that seniors realize there are a lot of options out there, and they're not really limited in what they can do." The idea for Disorientation was formed last spring during meetings with former student council members and administrators. The program will continue with more seminars sprinkled throughout the year, and be capped off by the traditional Senior Week, which includes a beach trip and special campus activities. "This is the first time I've heard of a program like this, and I'm hoping it becomes a Hopkins tradition," said Larry Benedict, dean of Homewood student affairs. The program will serve as an emotional boost and rallying point for the senior class, he said. "All seniors share in both a sense of loss at graduation and a sense of excitement at going on. There can be a letdown senior year, because there is no formal rite of passage," Dean Benedict said. "We would like to offer a way to ease out of school and address life issues." Seminars will cover the opportunities and pitfalls of graduate school and specialized areas in the working world such as law, health care, government, teaching and business. Seminars of general interest will offer guidance on job interviews, graduate school applications and resume preparation. A financial planning seminar will cover graduation's inevitabilities: paying for student loans and health insurance. Social highlights of the week will be gatherings with administrators and faculty for lunches and a barbecue dinner in Decker Garden. On Thursday night students are invited to the Baltimore Brewing Company, and Friday, the grand opening of E-Level, the new student pub in Levering Hall, will be held. Dean Benedict said he is impressed because the far-reaching program was entirely designed and organized by undergraduates. "At this point, it's shaping up to be a terrific event: a way to explore alternative careers, alternative paths, and learn how to deal with financial and other nitty-gritty issues," he said. Seniors and other members of the Homewood community are welcome to attend Disorientation events on a limited reservation basis. For a schedule or to sign up, call 516-8203.
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