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Meet the Staff: Savanna Soucier, First Year Trip Leader


By Megan Bevins | Staff Writer

When Savanna Soucier, a WVU Senior in Recreation, Parks and Tourism Resources, was presented the opportunity to mentor her peers and help them adjust to college, she decided it was something she wanted to take on.

“I just felt like that would be really gratifying and really rewarding, and it turns out it was,” Soucier said.

The warm and welcoming environment Soucier experienced once beginning the role was a huge help in overcoming nerves and adjusting to the job. 

Adventure WV’s First-Year Trips have long been a fruitful opportunity for incoming WVU freshmen to connect with the university and their fellow classmates through exploring the great outdoors. This is largely due to their student leaders — the ones guiding those new freshmen every step of the way to ensure they take away all that they can from the experience.

As a trip leader, a big part of Soucier’s job is navigating her own life as a WVU student while helping freshmen do the same. That relatability is what makes the student-led aspect of First-Year Trips such a special and important part of the experience. 

“I believe that it allows the freshman to develop in ways that they wouldn't otherwise,” she said. “When other peers — whether they've been in college one year or three years — take incoming freshmen out on these trips, they provide practical real world experience that is just valuable to hear when you're going into college.”

Soucier explains that the trips being peer-led allows for better bonding between freshman and leader, as the leader understands not only what freshmen are going through as students but as people in the same stage of life — young college kids just trying to succeed.

Another important aspect of this relationship, she said, are the conversations that freshmen can have with their leader that perhaps they can’t have with their parents or older mentors.  

Although First-Year Trips are focused on the incoming freshmen, having fun and making memories through First-Year trips isn’t reserved just for them.

Life-long memories are present for both freshmen and leaders, traveling the state and bonding through new activities. Though long, sometimes tiring days are somewhat inevitable for trip leaders, those experiences and the impact they have on her and these students is Soucier’s main motivator.

People in a circle 

Soucier feels that nights with little sleep are worth making such a big impact on so many lives. 

“It doesn't matter how many hours of sleep you miss at the end of the day, it's about the connections and it's about the growth that you get to witness.” Savanna Soucier

Adventure WV is now preparing to bring in a new group of First-Year Trip leaders for next summer. 

Soucier offers some advice and words of encouragement for new leaders and students thinking about signing up for the job. She encourages leaders to begin by being themselves. 

Soucier adds that the team plays a unique and impactful role in the operation of the trips, and if leaders are authentically themselves from the get go, it will make the Adventure community that much stronger.

For any students who want to sign up but are nervous about taking on the role, Soucier encourages you to take the leap and go for it. 

While Soucier’s position as a First-Year Trip leader requires a lot of hard work, it comes with so many great experiences and high reward for everyone involved.

“Even the anxiety surrounding that of maybe not having much leadership experience or not feeling that you're equipped for the role are issues that I found to be fully and entirely mitigated through the course that was taken before you become a trip leader,” Soucier said.

The course she is referring to is Leadership in Experiential Education (RPTR 251), which all trip leaders are required to take this as part of their job training.

To all her fellow First-Year Trip leaders, Soucier says, “You’ve got this!”

People jumping  

About the Author

Megan Bevins is a staff writer for the WVUGo marketing and communications team. She is currently a junior at West Virginia University obtaining a B.S. in Journalism. She hopes to work as a News Reporter after graduation.

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