UNC Asheville Launches Fusion Pre-Orientation Program;
Freshmen Get a Jump on Their College Careers
While 100 UNC Asheville freshmen and transfer students take on
wilderness adventures this week, 14 are tackling the local concrete
jungle. And it's new terrain for many.
Freshman Sara Cowan, of Washington, D.C., knew virtually nothing
about Asheville and Western North Carolina when she arrived on campus
August 12 – but now she does, thanks to Fusion, the new urban
alternative to the University's popular Wilderness Experience
Cowan and 13 other freshmen and transfer students are taking part in
Fusion, which is designed to introduce new students to Western North
Carolina and Asheville. Most importantly, Fusion is helping these
students forge close bonds with their classmates and the University.
"I was pretty nervous about coming to college," Cowan admitted. "But
Fusion has helped me better know my way around campus, meet new friends,
settle into my dorm room and become more comfortable in my own skin
before classes start."
Fusion, crafted by UNC Asheville's Student Affairs Division, kicked off
August 12 and will wrap up August 16. Both the Wilderness Experience and
Fusion supplement the traditional new student orientation program, which
gets underway on August 17.
Freshman Hannah Barrett, of Washington, D.C., really wanted to
participate in a pre-orientation program and said she considered the
Wilderness Experience. But in the end, she found Fusion a much better
fit for her personality.
"We know how important it is for new students to make connections prior
to the start of the semester, but the Wilderness Experience is not the
right program for all students," said Bill Haggard, UNC Asheville Vice
Chancellor for Student Affairs. "Fusion provides a new and different
opportunity for students to deeply engage with the University and the
While adjusting to college life, Fusion participants are learning more
about the region through the lens of local history and the arts.
Students choose from two tracks: "Echoes of the Past" or "Arts
Partners." Each day they set out from campus to sample the unique
culture heritage of Western North Carolina, including Qualla Boundary,
Biltmore House, Folk Art Center, downtown galleries and the Thomas Wolfe
It has been great fun for Cowan, who hasn't spent much time in the area.
In fact, she said, "I never even heard of Asheville until I started
looking at colleges. When I came to visit, I fell in love with the
campus and the city."
Transfer student Haley Monley from Fort Payne, Ala. agrees. "Downtown
Asheville is absolutely enchanting. And I'm learning something new every
day about Asheville and the University. It's great."
Students also appreciate the laid-back atmosphere in which they can ask
questions of the Fusion leaders, all who are UNC Asheville
upperclassmen. Leaders have fielded questions on a host of topics – from
offering tips to living in a dorm to discussing favorite professors.
These important conversations are exactly what Haggard was hoping new
students would experience.
"It's early but it's clear that Fusion is a success," he said. "This
outstanding collaborative effort of faculty, staff and student leaders
is helping get our new students off to the best start possible."
Barrett agreed. She summed up her feelings about her pre-orientation
experience by saying, "Fusion makes me realize that my days at UNC
Asheville are just going to get better and better."