The past year was anything but normal for the freshman class in 2020. Though the staff at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor worked hard to give them a great experience, it was difficult with the COVID-19 pandemic looming over their heads.
“With restrictions on campus last year due to COVID, we wanted to welcome back our second-year students in true UMHB style,” said Katie Gregory, Assistant Director of Student Success.
With this in mind, the staff came up with an event with games, community and great food, now known as Second Year Social, or SYS.
“We wanted to make students aware of the fun and exciting traditions that UMHB has to offer that they may not have experienced,” Gregory said.
This event would also allow for sophomores to interact with other sophomores as they began their new school year. The pandemic took a lot of the community and fun out of last year for some students, and organizers aimed to bring that back.
“I did not think about it too much until I saw the freshman this year get an awesome welcome week,” sophomore Dakota Powell said.
Powell revealed that she felt hurt by seeing the difference in the previous year versus the current one. Like other sophomores, she admitted that it was difficult to watch the freshman this year have the full college experience that the COVID-19 pandemic robbed them of the prior year.
The main goal behind SYS was assuring that these students did not feel overlooked. Organizers say the event cannot replace what they were not able to experience, but it can make up for the lost excitement and fun from that year.
UMHB sophomores received an email from Gregory herself about the event. If a student did not receive an email, they were able to see posters and online advertisements about the event. Students were then able to get an idea about the purpose of the event and RSVP if they planned to attend. The event was complete with games, community, and great food.
“I believe this tradition should continue,” sophomore Hannah Maynard said. “The Second Year Social is a great way to get the sophomores involved and not feel left out.”
Maynard said that the majority of the time sophomores feel they receive no praise when they enter the new school year. She says this event allowed her to become better acquainted with her fellow students and the traditions of UMHB.
“It was a very fun night to be with friends and relax before the semester picked up,” said Powell. She expressed that she really enjoyed the sense of community and felt significantly better about starting her sophomore year at UMHB.
“I think the Second Year Social was very successful,” Gregory said. When asked if this would become a new tradition, she stated they were unsure at this time and it evaluated in the future.