SUNY Oswego’s ‘laker leaders’ adapt to online orientation

OSWEGO, N.Y. — After losing many senior year traditions to COVID-19, this year’s high school graduates went without another sought after part of their summer: college orientation. 

Students at SUNY Oswego who were hired as “laker leaders” had to adapt to changes as orientation moved to completely online. 

John Cerio is a laker leader and spent his summer behind his computer, answering emails and hosting Zoom calls from his bedroom. 

Summer orientation now consisted of online programs, learning modules and laker leader office hours instead of the in-person two-day experience usually offered at Oswego. 

Cerio, like others, originally accepted the position hoping it would be in person, only to find out in early summer that it was completely online. 

“That was a day I was optimistic,” he said. “I was like, you know what, I can still do what I want to do, so I accepted it because I still wanted to be a guide.”

The laker leaders received little information about how orientation would work online before they started, but Cerio said he still had no worries going in. 

“You can still do the same things just online and in a different way,” he said. “You aren’t going to get the in person events but you can create events.”

Even with no worries about orientation, Cerio said he was unsure how the incoming students would react to losing an in-person orientation. 

“I’m pretty sure they were mad because this is the same grade that had their senior year cut from high school,” he said. “They lost an in person orientation so obviously they aren’t going to be the most joyful.”

As the summer progressed, Cerio was pleasantly surprised by his group as they were able to adapt very well and able to keep up with their work and stay involved. 

Despite having a successful summer as a laker leader, Cerio says he will not take the position again if it remains online. 

“I am a very in person person,” he said. “I feel like if I’m hosting events in person or I’m doing things in person I’m able to be more charismatic and be more into it. For like online, that barrier, for me personally, is pretty huge.”

If the online barrier is removed, Cerio said, he will be back on campus next summer welcoming first year students to their new home.