Great Start introduces incoming commuter and transfer students to campus life

By Ashley A. Williams

Great Start introduces incoming commuter and transfer students to campus life

By Ashley A. Williams
The overnight pre-orientation program – now in its 30th year – welcomes newly admitted first-year commuter and transfer students with a weekend of fun.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of Great Start, a unique overnight pre-orientation program geared toward providing a seamless transition into college and campus life for newly admitted commuter and transfer students who will be living off campus in their first year at the University of Miami.

Each summer, the Department of Orientation and Commuter Student Involvement hosts the program for new commuter students and introduces them to the campus and its resources, challenging them to explore academic and co-curricular opportunities, and empowering them to be active members of the University—all before classes officially begin.

This summer, the program welcomed 83 incoming commuter students—51 students during the second weekend session, which took place July 13-14, and 32 participants during the first weekend session June 22-23.

Below, students who participated in Great Start 2019 share their experience:  

Hugo Mijares-Bracho

Hugo Mijares-BrachoI’m Hugo Mijares-Bracho, an incoming freshman majoring in Health Studies. I am from Miami, Florida. I decided to participate in Great Start since I was dying to get a taste of campus life. You’re telling me that I get to spend a weekend at UM? I’m all for it! Not only did I get a taste of campus life but I got so much more from my experience at Great Start. I met some incredible people and lifelong friends, I got to experience the strong sense of pride there is in becoming a ’Cane. Great Start made me feel welcome and prepared for the fall semester. I also received much needed information about the various things I had questions about. I really felt like I had a sense of belonging and community within my fellow commuters too! Having seen firsthand the competitive spirit within my fellow commuters I can’t wait for Homecoming and for Sportsfest! I would 100 percent recommend Great Start to future ’Canes. It’s fun, exciting, and will for sure make a lasting impact on you and give you a smooth transition into the ’Canes family.”


Claudia Sofia Beaz-Sola

Claudia Sofia Beaz-Sola“I’m a transfer student and I’m feeling so grateful and totally empowered to start the fall semester with a great start. This program has given me the opportunity to learn more about the campus, meet so many friends. I’m just super excited for the school year even more.”


Genesis Leiva Cerna

Genesis Leiva Cerna“I am a first year student and I attended the second weekend of Great Start. It’s an amazing experience and if you have the opportunity you should definitely take it. Everyone here makes you feel at home, and if you’re nervous you’ll get accustomed to everything and you’ll grow out of your shell. It’s been an amazing experience.”


Kristy Mulet

“It’s the end of Great Start weekend and it was not at all what I was expecting. I thought that I was going to make a couple friends but I wasn’t going to get close to so many people. I have met so many people and we have all become so close. I have learned so many things because of Great Start. And the counselors care – like, they see through you. They know exactly how you feel. They all motivate you so I definitely recommend this for anyone who’s scared of coming out of their shell. This program helps you learn more about yourself and others as well. I want to apply to be a counselor so that I can hopefully give others this same feeling.”


Cassandra Perez

"I am from Plantation, Florida. I am a transfer student coming from the University of Florida. I learned about Great Start through the Instagram handle, @canestagram, and was immediately intrigued, but it wasn’t until I saw the pictures from Weekend 1 that I committed to attending Weekend 2! It was an experience that I was not willing to pass up! Great Start enabled me to make connections with students and alumni who are already familiar with the University, who can offer advice that (under other circumstances) would not be easily accessed. This included a range of information regarding positive experiences with professors and coursework, to campus life and organizations. Throughout Great Start, I met and made so many great friends that I will likely keep beyond our studies here at UM. All of our counselors were very helpful, informative, and approachable! They definitely made me feel at home from the moment I walked in. One of the most important concepts that resonated with me is campus involvement. Not only does it benefit our campus, it benefits the community because many of our organizations go beyond campus and into nearby communities. Even internationally! With this, I cannot wait to become involved on campus. This was a weekend I will never forget, and I am grateful for those who made this possible. It has impacted me in ways that I cannot even explain. I will definitely recommend this program to future 'Canes, and hopefully become a counselor in the upcoming Great Start weekends!"