The Catholic University of America

Nov. 19, 2010

Orientation Program Honored with Awards for Best Newsletter and Theme

  From left, Kristin Reavey, Andrew Laux, Rachel Gazzerro and Katie Jennings

The staff of CUA’s Orientation program was honored recently with two awards by the National Orientation Directors Association during its annual conference Nov. 6-9 in St. Louis.

The orientation newsletter, CUA Newsflash, won best newsletter, and the program’s theme of “Doors Opening” took first place as outstanding theme in the nationwide contest. Both the newsletter and materials showcasing the theme were displayed during the conference, which was attended by approximately 600 people. This was the first year that the orientation staff entered their work into competition.

Katie Jennings, associate dean of students who heads the program, and Orientation student coordinators Rachel Gazzerro and Andrew Laux attended the conference and were on hand to accept the awards, which came in the form of shadow boxes with a St. Louis theme.

“We were very excited,” says Jennings. “I felt it was really good for the students to see their hard work pay off and get some recognition outside your own university.”

Jennings said she had challenged her student coordinators to overhaul the newsletter this year. Gazzerro, a senior French and politics major from Warwick, Md., took the lead in designing a creative layout for the newsletter and finding students to write articles on specific topics. Jennings says she thinks that the student-written articles make a strong connection with incoming students.

“I always considered myself not really that creative, but Dean Jennings wanted the newsletter to be redone and I was the one to do it,” explains Gazzerro. “It helped that the orientation advisers wrote great articles. I think my favorite part about winning was going to the conference and seeing other people flip through the printed version of the online newsletter that was on display.”

One of the shadowboxes that was awarded to the Orientation staff.

The newsletter is published three times during the summer by the staff and focuses on ways to get involved on campus, academics, and the Orientation program and Orientation Extended. Orientation Extended is a series of events that help students make the transition from high school to college and acclimate during their first weeks at the university.

Since 2008, the university has used the “Doors Opening” theme, inspired by the D.C. area’s Metrorail system. Jennings says she wanted to brand the program by sticking with one theme that all CUA students would relate to. Since its introduction, the “Doors Opening” theme has been effective for the university and has received positive feedback.

"Our theme works for us,” says Laux, a junior architecture major from Newtown, Pa., who put the award applications together. “It’s established and everything corresponds so well. We were able to make slight changes to the overall look but why change something for the sake of change when we all really like it?"

Jennings credits CUA graphic designer Kristin Reavey, who has worked with past student orientation coordinators, with designing the original materials for Orientation that showcased the Metrorail theme. Reavey has been involved in tweaking the program materials every year since then.

To learn more about Orientation, visit


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