Welcome home, Sophie Stewart!

New director of Manresa orientation is anything but new to Manresa

By Ryan Breece, Guest Writer

Xavier’s Office of Student Involvement (OSI) hired a new Assistant Director of Orientation and Transition over the summer.  

Sophie Stewart, a 2016 Xavier alumnus, took over the role and will begin working on next year’s Manresa Orientation as well as other tasks throughout the school year. 

Stewart rejoins the Xavier community after almost seven years away, and is excited to be back on campus this fall. 

Since graduation, Stewart has spent her time furthering her education and working in student involvement and orientation at Florida Gulf Coast University and Mount St. Joseph University.  Now, she is taking the reins of Xavier’s Manresa New Student Orientation program as her main focus throughout the school year. 

As a student at Xavier, Stewart spent significant time in the OSI, serving as a Manresa Core member (the program’s student organizers) in 2015 as well as a leadership development intern. On top of those experiences, she was an avid participant in Xavier’s Alternative Breaks program, Xavier Christmas, Girls on the Run and still found time to visit New York City to cheer on the men’s basketball team in the annual Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden. 

“Having lived through the Manresa experience gives me a really good foundation for assessing what’s going well, what’s still been in the program since I was involved in it, what’s changed and then what might we need to do to improve it moving forward,” Stewart said.

“So, I think having all of that lived experience helps me to inform how I would analyze a program professionally with my own professional and academic background in the field now.” 

When asked what made her come back to Xavier, Sophie discussed the first-year student experience. 

“I believe really strongly in the Xavier experience for students, and a big part of that Xavier experience for people is Manresa starting what every student goes through at the beginning of their Xavier journey,” Stewart said. 

“(Manresa) is a really special program (with) a lot of energ,” she added. “It’s something I wanted to be involved with professionally.” 

Sean Smyth, a senior who served on Manresa’s Core team this summer, echoed Stewart when asked about his experience with Manresa and Stewart’s influence. 

“Sophie is going to bring a lot of fun, that’s for sure. She really knows this program; she’s been under so many different offices and has specifically been tailored to orientation as well,” Smyth said.

In one word, Stewart’s main goal at Xavier is impact. Specifically, she hopes to make a lasting impact on the Manresa program and the OSI as a whole. 

“(In) this role, definitely the primary responsibility is Manresa… The orientation is the first three, four days that the students’ experience, but I would say the university and our office generally is looking at how we can improve the first-year experience…from the start to end of that first year,” Stewart said.

In order to make improvements to the first-year experience, she suggested extending and making accessible the resources on campus for students, including implementing different programing efforts, capitalizing on the current leaders that are already well equipped and leveraging the leaders’ support for students. 

“The energy was really cool and I think humbling, to see that same sort of enthusiasm and passion that I remember fondly as a student. That passion to be at Xavier and the pride to be at Xavier is something that’s really cool to be back with. It feels like a bit of a homecoming,” Stewart reminisced.