For more than 50 years The University of New Mexico has welcomed new Lobos through an on campus New Student Orientation (NSO) program, and although the tradition will always remain, this summer, it is looking much different.

In response to COVID-19 and the University’s efforts to do our part in ‘flattening the curve,’ NSO Director, Jose Villar, and his team were tasked with developing a new and virtual orientation for incoming students and their families.

"We will continue to address the challenges as they arise and find creative ways to serve our students." - Jose Villar, NSO Director

Senior Spotlight: Savannah Payton

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As a sixth-generation New Mexican and first-generation college student, Savannah Payton took dual credit courses at UNM Gallup while still in high school—allowing her to enter the University with college credits already on her transcript. Now, the senior is preparing to enter the workforce armed with a degree in history and a minor in political science.

Payton also serves as a New Student Orientation leader, and is often the first friend new Lobos have when coming to campus. She takes personal interest in helping them to create their own ties to the school by getting involved and taking advantage of every opportunity the University has to offer.

“I felt lost when I first came to UNM, so helping new students create meaningful connections really makes the UNM experience less intimidating,” she said. “New Mexico is my home and this community is important to me. Mentoring students who will continue building our community is something that’s close to my heart.” 

As one of the inaugural virtual New Student Orientation leaders, Payton is also laying a pioneering ways for future leaders to connect with students, while still adhering to social distancing guidelines. It’s one more way New Student Orientation is setting the stage for a Lobo’s time at UNM, just like life as a Lobo sets the stage for the future.

“College is more than just going to class,” Payton concluded. “It’s about finding yourself and meeting new people and having new experiences. If we can continue to bring that to new Lobos, count me in.”  

NSO was originally scheduled to host 22 in-person orientation programs that encompass information from dozens of departments and programs across campus.

  • 11 First Year orientation programs
  • 11 Family Connection orientation programs
  • 6 Transfer orientation programs

This summer, ‘NSO…To-Go’ replaced the traditional in-person orientation with a combination of remote academic advisement, online modules, video conferences and Q&A panels. Villar said it will include everything students need to be successful as they transition into their first semester at UNM. 

“We understand this is not the same experience as an in-person orientation for students,” Villar said. “We’re all having to adjust to a new normal, but we will continue to address the challenges as they arise and find creative ways to serve our students.”

Students are being required to complete the online orientation program in order to satisfy UNM's orientation requirement. Villar said his team is taking into consideration things like internet access, ADA requirements and the cost of the new online format.

“Although this orientation will be conducted remotely, our commitment to having a positive impact on the orientation, transition and retention of our newest Lobos is unchanged,” Villar said. “At this point, we just need a little time and patience as we revamp our current program and get this new one off the ground.”

Program Details

Over the course of orientation, students will complete four Learning Modules. An itinerary will be sent the Friday before a student's session and include links to each module. Students should start working on these as soon as they’re received.

  1. Welcome home Lobo
    This module provides an overview of UNM. Our People, Our Places, and Our Programs are highlighted throughout.
  2. Advising 1101
    This module prepares students for upcoming registration. It will show students how to use UNM’s online resources for registration and review how advisors recommend courses.
  3. Welcome to your College/School
    This module covers information related to your major and degree requirements in preparation for your upcoming registration.
  4. The Grey Area
    This module is a sexual misconduct prevention training that is required of all UNM students.

Please visit NSO for additional details.