Kathleen Bilodeau picks a card—any card—from magician Andrew Kinakin.

The magic of Orientation

Kathleen Bilodeau wants students’ first day of university to be magical, figuratively and literally.

By Lesley Porter

“It is their first experience of the university,” said Bilodeau, the events officer in Student Recruitment who worked with a team to plan student activities at Orientation. “You want it to be something exciting and you want them to continue to go to the events that we hold on campus, whether it be in their third or fourth year.”

That’s why Bilodeau hired a magician to spread a little cheer during the university’s annual event to welcome new students to campus.

While there has been a magician at Orientation before, “it was more a production, from what I gathered,” she explained. “It was on a stage, so it was a little bit different.”

The magician hired this time around, Andrew Kinakin, specializes in up-close magic, “so he’ll walk around the check-in line while students are standing there. He can make conversation and show them some real cool tricks up close.”

The magician was just one of the draws for another exciting Orientation, which also included college information sessions, guest speakers, a visit from the U of S Cheer Team, a noon-hour performance from the Glee Club, signmaking for the Huskie football game, a selfie tour (pinpointing notable campus landmarks) and a photo booth. And of course, it wouldn’t be a tried-and-true student event without prizes and swag.

With her first Orientation under her belt, Bilodeau—who graduated from the College of Kinesiology this past spring—is already thinking about next year. Student feedback will play a part in this.

“This year we’re going to do some assessment and take student feedback into consideration for next year,” she said.

Bilodeau admits that planning and facilitating an event so large with so many stakeholders can be stressful, but like most things in life, it is all worth it.

“The best part is definitely seeing the outcome of it, to see how it all comes together,” she said. “It’s a lot of work, especially during summer—people are on holidays—but it happens. It works.”