The Summer Magic of OCSI

The Department of Orientation and Commuter Student Involvement has been in full swing preparing the annual Great Start orientation event this summer.
greatstart 2024
Photo: Catherine Mairena/University of Miami

The magic of this year’s Great Start has been generating for months as dozens of students have been planning an incredible pre-orientation event for the commuter community. The transition to college is tough enough, but for commuter students, who won’t be living with new students, Great Start is a time to meet fellow commuting students and form a community. After years of successful execution, Great Start is now officially a free and required program for all first-year commuter students. Led by fellow commuter students, the experience highlights how to get involved and meet the University community through clubs and activities, giving commuters the greatest start to college.  

Hanna Ebrahimi and Albertie Regalado are the wizards behind the spells the Great Start team is casting this summer as the program coordinators and oversee the whole operation. They are working tirelessly with their whole team to prepare four fun filled weekends. “In [this role], we lead five steering chairs and 24 staff members, in designing all the internal and external components of the program. In terms of logistics, our role oversees the five committees of the program, which include Transition and Student Involvement, Marketing and Design, Recreation, Outreach, and Hospitality and Sponsorship,” says Regalado.  


This year, as the puns may have hinted, Great Start’s theme is ‘Find your Magic’ and was chosen by the staff earlier this year. “We are expecting a record-setting 350-400 participants across four weekends ranging from June-August. All four weekends are identical, and span two entire days from morning to night. To prepare for the program, our staff of 29 (24 staff members and 5 steering committee chairs) have been planning various components of our program since November 2023,” says Ebrahimi. The effort that goes into Great Start is not sorcery but rather the powerful initiative from these students.  

Great Start begins in just two weeks, which for most people, do not know what that will entail. “It is a competition. As soon as the participants arrive, they are split up into eight groups, and each group is competing to be the winner of that weekend. Our staff plans and executes theme-related activities ranging from a wizard-inspired escape room to Magical Musicality (our take on Beat Shazam) and our most popular activity, Dodgeball, where we incorporate the theme by bringing in unique powers," says Ebrahimi. Along with the tricks and charms, the incoming students will also participate in a campus tour, involvement fair, and professional development skills that can set them up for success over the next four years.