14:08 PM

Hawk Launch builds community, helps students transition to college

Before she attended the Hawk Launch at University of Houston-Clear Lake, Brianna Pacheco thought she would probably go to classes during the day and live at home.

"I had never been on campus before Hawk Launch," said Pacheco, a first-generation college student working toward her Bachelor of Science in Finance. "I received the New Hawk Full Ride Scholarship and it includes living in Hunter Residence Hall, but I had never been away from home and I wasn't sure I would move on campus."

Among the activities in the two-day Hawk Launch event was an overnight stay in Hunter Residence Hall, and that experience was so much fun, Pacheco said it made the decision to live on campus easy.

"I really liked hanging out with the other students I met there, and it's great not to have to get up earlier to drive," she said. "It was a preview of what it would be like if I moved in, just to see if I liked it, and I really do. Now it just takes a few minutes to walk to class. That really helps."

Assistant Director of Orientation and New Student Programs Tyler Hall said Hawk Launch is an extended orientation program, and intended to be more elaborate and intensive for new students.

"The priority is to reiterate the information students learned at orientation, solidify the resources on campus, and also learn the physical campus," he said. "But it's also about community-building for new Hawks. This is a group of students who are generally in college for the first time, and they find a group of friends they can start the fall semester with — and we hope, continue being friends the entire time they're here."

He said students check in early in the morning, and attend structured presentations, sessions and activities for the two days, with the overnight stay in between.

"Some students want that extra support and preparation for the fall semester," he said. "They would like to make friends, or maybe they're just a little nervous about everything. The overnight stay is a lot of fun and it's great to see students staying up, exploring the buildings after dark, and venturing off into the nature trails around campus."

Hall said many students like Pacheco decided to stay in Hunter Residence Hall instead of live at home after Hawk Launch.

"I was nervous and I wondered what I would do if I didn't make friends or if I didn't like it here," she said. "Hawk Launch was really helpful. Definitely, if you're new, even if you don't think you need it, you should do it. I'm really glad I did."

For more information about Orientation and New Student Programs, go online.