Five questions for a Cyclone aide

Sammi Roelfs

Cyclone aide adviser Sammi Roelfs. Photo by Bob Elbert.

It's June. Iowa State's in bloom. Is there a better summer job than giving campus tours to soon-to-be students and their families? Junior Sammi Roelfs agrees the summer post of Cyclone aide is a sweet setup. However, there's a bit more to the job than showing off a lovely campus and explaining the Memorial Union zodiac's role in test-taking.

And Roelfs is just the one to fill in such details. Last year she was among 36 students chosen for a coveted one-year stint as Cyclone aide. This year, she's back as a Cyclone aide adviser, a post that involves training, overseeing and mentoring the new aides and hosting special sessions for campus visitors.

The basics

Name: Samantha Roelfs
Position: Cyclone aide adviser, New Student Programs
Status: Junior, elementary education
Hometown: Ackley

What do Cyclone aides do?

I'm glad you asked because a common misconception is that we just do tours. Our main work occurs in June during summer orientation, a two-day program for new incoming freshmen and their families. During orientation, we help with visitor check-in, registration and parking. We host bus stops -- a lot of our guests use CyRide and we're there to help them read the schedule and make sure they get where they're going. We host sessions put on by other campus programs. We help with Cy's Sibs, a program for sixth through eighth grade siblings of students attending orientation.

We all live in Maple Hall during June because orientation students, families and guests stay there and we can act as community advisers to them. We eat dinner with the families every night and serve on panels for families and students. Evenings, we host activities at the Lied Recreation Center. So we have a variety of duties that make for a pretty busy day. Typically, we start around 7 or 7:30 a.m. and put in about a 10-1/2-hour day. But we do get breaks throughout the day to relax and rejuvenate, because everyone has night shifts.

What are some common questions that you get?

Student questions revolve quite a bit around classes, like what classes are hard? A common question we get is, "What is the easiest major?" That one is hard to address. My best answer is the easiest major is going to be whatever you're interested in because that's what you're going to enjoy learning and be passionate about.

Parents' questions sort of revolve around physiological needs. Where is my student going to sleep? Where are they going to eat? They ask a lot about DiningDollars vs. CyCash and about meal plans. There are a lot of different options. They want to know what's best for their students.

In your experience, is there a most popular stop on campus tours?

Probably the first stop right there in front of the Memorial Union. At that stop, we share a lot of the history of Iowa State, like the history of the Memorial Union and the campanile. They're just really taken aback by the rich history and traditions, like those surrounding the zodiac and the campanile.

Summer orientation

This two-day program brings incoming freshmen and their families to campus to plan their academic programs, register for classes and learn about Iowa State. It's run out of the New Student Programs office.

Do students at orientation generally seem to be embarrassed to be hanging out with their parents?

I would say, generally, no. In my experience, it's a really transitional and supportive time for both the student and the family member, so they're not usually too embarrassed.

Is it hard to become a Cyclone aide?

Yes, it's a pretty honorable position. We usually have over 200 applicants for 36 spots. Those who are selected go through 100 hours of training that includes a leadership class during spring semester. We have so much information to learn, scripts to memorize and tour training and practice. Then, right before orientation starts, we have what's called our intensive training week. During that time, we do last-minute presentations, give a few tours, and just get everything polished. For that week, we're kind of going all day, every day.