Record numbers of people attend summer orientation at CSUMB

Summer 2024 Orientation - BDA

Students and their families and supporters on the main quad | Photo by Brent Dundore-Arias

July 3, 2024

By Mark Muckenfuss

August Perry is looking forward to sprinting into the chilly ocean next month.

“I didn’t know about the plunge,” Perry said, referring to the annual Otter Plunge – a Welcome Week activity that helps kick off the fall semester in August. He added he “most definitely” planned to brave the waves. 

“You’ll see us all there,” added Jake Connor, motioning to Perry and the other two new Otters sitting at a table outside the dining commons on the first day of Transfer Student Orientation, an event that welcomes new students to campus and provides them with information and resources for navigating the coming year. 

The Otter Plunge seemed an appropriate subject as new students prepared to dive into a new living and learning experience. The day’s events included a welcome session in the World Theater for students, with a concurrent meeting for parents and supporters in the University Center. Those were followed by academic advising, workshops, opportunities to register for classes, financial aid sessions, a host of information from organizations tabling on the quad and housing tours. 

Two orientation events were held – each offering three one-day sessions – during back-to-back weeks in June. One event was for transfer students, the second for incoming first-year students.

“This is my first time on campus,” Connor said. Through the orientation activities, he added, “You get a good idea of where everything is.” 

Connor plans to major in business management. He said he chose CSUMB for its academics and location.

“The business program here did look very appealing,” he said. “Also [the campus is] not that far from home and I do like going to the beach.”

Perry plans to major in marine biology and got drawn into the Monterey area at an early age.

“I grew up coming to the Monterey Bay Aquarium,” he said, “For marine biology, it was obviously the best place to facilitate that careerwise. I want to get my diving certification and do something in fisheries maybe.”

“We pride ourselves on providing a holistic educational experience that goes beyond the classroom,” said Ben Corpus, Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs. “Our coastal beauty not only offers a serene environment for study but also serves as a natural laboratory for students like Perry, who are passionate about marine biology. Our faculty are dedicated to nurturing students' academic and personal growth, helping them build strong, lasting bonds with their peers.”

Tomas Clark, also sitting with Perry and Connor, has a connection to the campus that goes back a long way. Clark, whose daughter will be a first-year student in the fall, grew up in Castroville. He recalls working on the Fort Ord Army base as a young man, before heading off to college. Now, it’s his daughter who is making that step as a psychology major and member of the water polo team.

“I like the way the campus looks,” Clark said. “It’s big enough, but still small.”

That smallness seemed to make it more comfortable for both him and his daughter. 

“It was the right fit,” he said, “both the school and the [water polo] team.”

He also liked the amount of student support talked about in orientation sessions, from counselors and mentors to alumni connections after graduation. 

“It sounds like she has a lot of resources available to her,” he said. “She’ll be able to really be in charge, to become the person she wants to become.”

Ivet Machuca said she too was impressed by the amount of resources on campus. A transfer student from Alan Hancock College, Manchuca is from Guadalupe, California. She was sitting at the dining commons with a new-found friend, Francine Barrera of Visalia. Both are planning to major in psychology.

“I love the environment here,” Manchuca said. “I visited in high school and I really liked it. It sounds like there’s a lot of support on campus.”

She cited such things as scholarship availability, the new fitness center, campus groups and the welcoming people. 

“I was a little nervous about living on my own,” she said. “I feel more comfortable now.”

Barerra said the weather initially attracted her to CSUMB. But she is more impressed now by the people she’s encountered. 

“There is a lot of diversity,” Barerra said. “It makes me more comfortable. Sometimes it’s hard to find that at other places.”

While students were mostly excited, parents often expressed trepidation. Melanie Morris, of San Diego, admitted she was “a little terrified” about her daughter attending school more than 400 miles from home. She said the orientation experience was helping her to feel better. 

“As soon as I walked on campus, I felt it was the right place for her,” she said. 

Her daughter chose CSUMB because of it’s size, Morris said. 

“She loves the beach and loves the campus,” she said. “It seems like home to her already.”

One can hardly feel more oriented than that.