Welcome back! Orientation 2021 marks long-awaited return to campus

More than 250 students join faculty and staff for Brandeis International Business School’s official kick-off to fall semester

students talk on campus at orientation event

Tumennast Baatar, MBA’22 was thrilled to finally be on campus.

For the first time ever, this week’s orientation at Brandeis International Business School included programming for both first-year students and returning students like Baatar.

Unable to travel to the United States last fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Baatar, who is from Mongolia, enrolled in two semesters of online classes while also working remotely for the business school’s Admissions department.

“I feel like this is my orientation too,” said Baatar from under a large tent outside the Spingold Theater. “My first goal is to meet all of my classmates.”

Orientation marked the long-awaited return to campus for students, faculty and staff at the International Business School. Buoyed by Brandeis University’s COVID-19 policies that include vaccination requirements, frequent testing and indoor masking rules, students expressed excitement and optimism for the coming academic year.

More than 250 students participated in both in-person and online activities throughout orientation week.

“I feel more alive because I was stuck in my room for so long,” said Chester Zikhali, MSF’23, a first-year student from South Africa. “Meeting everyone in person is quite exciting because it brings back the opportunity to network that’s essential for a business school.”

Like Baatar and Zikhali, the majority of students were arriving on campus for the first time. At a welcome reception Monday, students from Afghanistan, Cambodia, China, India, Kenya and Nepal passed around a microphone to introduce themselves.

After offering an overview of the International Business School’s programs and Brandeis University’s founding values, Dean Kathryn Graddy commended the students for navigating unprecedented challenges over the last two years.

“I usually say that we have all been where you are right now at some point in our lives,” said Graddy. “But we actually haven’t. You are a very brave class for persevering through the pandemic and continuing your education.”

Other orientation programming included a social hour with faculty and staff, campus tours, musical bingo and a student club fair. Most of the events were held outside.

During the social hour, professors and program staff talked about the International Business School’s many academic, career and experiential learning opportunities.

Leadership Fellows, wearing matching blue t-shirts, answered questions from their new classmates about settling into campus life. Among them was Josh Wright-Huynh, MBA’22, who was eager to share his own experiences as a first-year student.

“I had a great Leadership Fellow my first year,” said Wright-Huynh, who studied online from his Chicago condo last year before moving to the Boston area in July. “I wanted to give back and make sure the first year students got the most out of it.”

This article by Douglas Moser originally appeared on the Brandeis International Business School website on August 20, 2021. 

By Career Strategies and Engagement (CSE)
Career Strategies and Engagement (CSE)