The Latine Experience Onboarding (LEO) orientation at Old Dominion University (VA) gave a dozen Latine students the opportunity to move in early, increase their comfort levels and begin to navigate their first year on campus. “We’re giving them a roadmap so they know where to go if they run into problems that first day,” said Ana Luz Williams, associate director of marketing for undergraduate admissions, who organized LEO. “The goal is to retain that student and make them feel they have a family here that they belong to.”

Participating students created vision boards to strategize how they can counteract fears in positive ways. They built trust and teamwork by going through a ropes course. And they visited campus offices to get familiar with available resources.

“With so many of these students being first-generation college students, it is important for them to build these relationships with other Latines who they can relate to,” said Mariela Romero, graduate assistant for Latine initiatives in the Office of Intercultural Relations. “The LEO program offers resources, connections, and community, which in turn help with retention and provides a path towards graduation.”

Read more about the LEO program here.