Laura Petrus knows a thing or two about welcoming students to campus.
Petrus, director of student and family engagement at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, coordinates Welcome Week—a fun-filled string of events and activities to kick off the school year.
When Welcome Week 2022 commences this Sunday, Aug. 21, it will mark Petrus’ fifth time being involved in opening-week festivities since coming to UTC in 2018. Before arriving in Chattanooga, she was previously involved in student activities at Arkansas State University, the University of Arkansas and the University of West Georgia.
“Welcome Week is really special to me because it is a first impression these students get of what campus life looks like,” Petrus said. “I love how campus departments and student organizations come together to welcome our students, both new and returning.
“For students that maybe haven’t been involved in the past or are new and are looking for those involvement opportunities, Welcome Week is a great first step for them to create their own path with what they want their student life experience outside the classroom to look like.”
More than 80 events are on the Welcome Week calendar and most can be found in MocSync—the University’s student engagement platform.
Events are open to all currently enrolled UTC students and are free unless otherwise noted. Some events require pre-registration, so students are advised to check the event description for more information.
Petrus discussed the importance of introducing new UTC students to MocSync.
“MocSync is designed to be a one-stop shop for students to connect with student organizations, find upcoming events and even apply for leadership opportunities,” she said. “MocSync is not solely just for our student organizations, though. It is open for use by departments—especially departments that have opportunities for students to get involved within their programs.
“Every single student organization has its own page within MocSync. It’s really easy for them to add events and use that platform to connect with potential members and advertise their organization activities campuswide.”
Petrus added that events in MocSync will automatically be added to the Scrappy Newsletter, a weekly digest of student events and opportunities distributed weekly via email to all students during the school year.
During Welcome Week, signature large-scale events occur every evening, starting Sunday, Aug. 21, with the Oak Street Roast—a campus tradition for more than 25 years.
Other signature evening events include:
- Monday, Aug. 22: Soundwaves Pool Party at the Aquatic and Recreation Center, sponsored by Campus Recreation
- Tuesday, Aug. 23: Headphone Dance Party on Chamberlain Field, sponsored by the Disability Resource Center
- Wednesday, Aug. 24: Screen on the Green Outdoor Movie Night on Chamberlain Field, sponsored by the Center for Career and Leadership Development
- Thursday, Aug. 25: Welcome Back Cookout on Chamberlain Field, sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Affairs
- Friday, Aug. 26: UC After Dark at the University Center, sponsored by the University Center
- Saturday (Aug. 27): Welcome Back Concert featuring Wale at McKenzie Arena, sponsored by the Office of Student and Family Engagement and the Office of Multicultural Affairs; check the MocSync link for important information about the event
“What I enjoy about the signature evening events is that they are larger in nature,” Petrus said, “and they give students different experiences. It’s a great way for students to connect with different departments and staff in those offices and learn about the programs and services they offer.”
Most Welcome Week events occur during the day, allowing students to “pop in and check them out,” Petrus said.
One daytime highlight is the tremendously popular Goat Yoga, which takes place on Chamberlain Field from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 24. Signups for Goat Yoga will be available at the start of Welcome Week.
“Another daytime event I like talking about is the International Student Welcome Reception, an annual event that the Office of Multicultural Affairs does with the Center for Global Education,” Petrus said. The reception is at 3:15 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 23, in Lupton Hall. “I think it’s really cool that we have campus departments that recognize that we have different populations of students here and work to make them feel welcome in whatever way they need to.
“I love Welcome Week because of the energy it gives our campus.”
As a reminder, masks are welcomed in all indoor locations. Masks that fit, worn properly and consistently, will be most effective. All University events are subject to change in date, location, protocols and/or format, based on prevailing public health conditions.