Past Preview Staff Perspectives

Starting the Tradition since 1974

Our student leaders are full of Gator pride! They hold themselves to a high standard and excel both in and out of the classroom. Our students leave their mark on the University of Florida through their experience with the Preview Program. Please click on one of the following students to find out what he or she has to say about their Preview Staff experience.

Annie Uzar

Grad Year: 2014 | Public Relations | Palm City, FL

Being one piece of a forty person puzzle has taught me more than any other form of involvement could at the University of Florida. As a 2013 Preview Staffer, I learned how to understand my strengths and abilities in ways that I never imagined I would. Through this position, I tried to treat every person like they knew nothing about UF. I was their first impression and I wanted them to look back at a positive experience. I learned how rely on others and not take on all responsibilities on my own, because I knew I had thirty-nine people who had my back.

I applied to be on Preview Staff twice. The first time, I don’t think I was quite ready for what was to come. I decided to apply a second time because I wanted to see if I had what it took to help welcome the incoming class of my peers. Throughout the process the second time, I acted like myself and felt confident that if I were to get the position, it was meant to be. Don’t let how others act through the process change your attitude, the directors of NSFP look for honesty and integrity. So, just be true to yourself throughout your interviews so they can really see you.

Charlene Ochogo

Grad Year: 2014 | Telecommunications | Tallahassee, FL

Inspire. Verb. To stimulate to action or motivate.

People envision Preview staffers as perpetually chipper, smiling automatons like the little robots on the “It’s A Small World” ride, and I’ll be the first to admit that I figured if you could put on a smile at 6:00 a.m., you could be a Preview staffer. But as I learned this past summer, that could not be farther from the truth. We’re real people. We have goals, responsibility, strengths, flaws, and believe it or not, a life outside of what we like to call “the Preview bubble.” Our job, contrary to popular belief, isn’t to sell you a meal plan, or convince you to live on campus, or stick you in classes you don’t feel like taking. Our true job (and the reason I applied to this position not once, but twice) is to help people reach their dreams, even the ones they haven’t dreamed up yet.

Roughly 30,000 high school seniors apply to the UF every year. Of those, about 6,400 will experience the overwhelming joy of reading, “Congratulations, _____! You have been accepted to the University of Florida!” Every one of those who get in is chosen for a specific and very different reason, because UF doesn’t choose applications – they choose people. My favorite moment in every session was when I explained that statistic to my students’ and got to see even the most disengaged students’ faces light up. The world itself casts so much doubt on us that occasionally, we need someone or something to remind us that we’re special.

I was one of the oldest members on staff, trying to orient students close to 4 years my junior to the rules and regulations of the university, but they inspired me. They reminded me that dreaming big isn’t a sign of immaturity, but creativity and self-assurance. They showed me that even right at the start before we fully understand anything, we control our destiny. They proved to me that one person can make a difference. This summer was the hardest I’ve ever worked, the least I’ve ever slept, and quite possibly, the happiest I’ve ever been.

Christian Pierre-Canel

Grad Year: 2015 | Political Science | Lehigh Acres, FL

Looking back at my Preview experience I've come to realize that being on staff was, in a way, a microcosm of my time in college so far. I started off as an individual not exactly sure what the adventure would bring, or what I was doing.  Over time my fellow staffers and I came together with different backgrounds, different personalities, and different strengths and "lesser strengths".   Eventually through team building and getting to know each other we began to find our niche.

 

Being a Preview Staffer was unlike any other experience that I have had before. I wasn't simply a part of a team, but I was and still am a part of a family. I didn't merely aide in the orientation and academic advising of over 8,000 students and their family members, but helped foster the next generation of Gators. Though I can't relive any of the moments that have happened over this past summer, I can and will always carry with me the memories made and the lessons learned. "It's not about where you start, it's about where you finish". I can honestly say that I finished with a new supporting family, stronger sense of skills and awareness, and an overall improvement as an individual.

Claudia Stantzyk-Guzek

Grad Year: 2016 | Journalism | Valrico, FL

Asking me to put my Preview experience into words is like asking a boat with holes not to sink – impossible.  There are no words that would properly express my feelings towards this entire experience.  Coming through Preview just over a year ago, my experience was still fresh in my mind.  I remember walking onto UF’s campus for the first time, hopelessly lost and stressed out but the Preview Staffers greeted me with such a warm, positive energy that I couldn’t help but be taken in by it. My Preview Staffers became my mentors; I aspired to make a difference in the lives of incoming students the way that they made a difference in mine.

I can’t put this experience into words because, for the most part, there is just too much to say. Getting the opportunity to influence the lives of over 6,000 incoming students (not to mention their family members) is an opportunity that not many students get. Not to mention that this was my first leadership opportunity on campus as well (and boy, was it a HUGE one). The memories I have from interacting with students and family members will stay with me forever, and they will always hold a special place in my heart. The other special place is reserved for my Preview Staff. P-Luv is a powerful thing, and we are a family that is 40 strong. Getting to learn and grow as a leader around these other amazing individuals has allowed me to become a stronger leader after one summer and has shown me the way to become a strong leader for the rest of my life.

As for my tips of the trade? Tip One: If you are even considering applying, DO IT. I remember how much I doubted myself when I first applied and how I almost didn’t submit my application. I can’t even imagine what my life would have been like if I hadn’t.  Tip Two:  Be yourself, because YOU are GREAT. Let your natural talents and personality shine through! Lastly, Tip Three: Do your research. Make sure this is something you really want to do, read (and memorize) all the information sent out to you, and come to every interview prepared (and early!!!).

Daniel Tippehauer

Grad Year: 2016 | English | Miami, FL

I didn’t know what to expect as an incoming freshman applying to be a Preview Staffer here at the University of Florida. However, what I did know is that two previous Staffers had an impact that stuck with me throughout my Summer term worth of classes. I wanted to mold my experience here at UF after encountering these two uplifting individuals. I wanted to offer the same comfort and transitional assistance that they open-handedly offered me to the next incoming class of Gators.

An application and three interviews later, I made it onto an ambitious staff of 40. The feeling was phenomenal. I would have never expected to have been presented such an opportunity at UF so early upon my arrival. Either way, it happened – and it happened for a reason. The professional staff behind the selection process for Preview had a vision. They didn’t want to pick out individuals who were qualified for the position but instead a team that would efficiently relate to our new incoming students, work with our students to create a successful academic schedule for their first semester, and deliver an experience that will mark the beginning of their legacies as prosperous Gators here at the University of Florida.
More swiftly then we had anticipated, the summer dawned upon after a semester worth of preparation and a basket of imperishable memories of joy.  Starting off our summer sessions on a high note set the bar. From then, our staff only grew stronger and closer. Now that our last session is behind us, all we can do is reminisce upon the success that we cohesively put together and enjoy the memories we will always as the staff who brought in the Class of 2017. In closing, being a Preview Staffer is an experience worth putting your all into. You’re granted the opportunity to help mold the future of a university that we as Gators love dearly as well as personally grow in ways only experiencing Preview for yourself can define.

Jalyn Delancy

Grad Year: 2015 | Political Science | Miami, FL

I will go ahead and be honest; I was probably one of the least excited students to attend Preview. But upon arriving at UF I found it extremely difficult to be anything but happy. The 2011 Preview staffers made my first experience at UF amazing and I couldn’t stop thinking about it even after leaving. I knew from then that I wanted to be a part of this. I knew being a part of this team was about more than just wearing an orange polo and a smile, but I had no idea how challenging, demanding and profoundly rewarding this experience was going to be. Being a part of the 2013 Preview staff has challenged me to not only learn how to best help others, but to also learn so much more about myself. Being able to help new students’ conquer their questions, fears and concerns was literally one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had and was by far the most rewarding. Preview challenges you to have not only knowledge but patience to teach what you know. Not only willfulness, but motivation and drive to keep going even when you're tired. And most importantly, Preview not only shows you how to become a better leader, but it also challenges you to learn the true meaning behind the word team. This was singlehandedly the best experience of my life and the friendships and connections I have made with my fellow staffers, professional staff and new students have irrevocably changed my life for the better. If you're not sure you want to apply, do it. Take the plunge. You will never regret it. I am so excited for the journey that awaits you. This is your moment. Take it. And make the most out of every second. Be the Tradition.

Janna Gilstrap

Grad Year: 2015 | Telecommunication | Atlanta, GA

There is nothing more memorable in my life than the first time I was surrounded by my fellow gators at my very own Preview. The very moment a dynamic group of students dressed in orange walked in a room gator chomping to "It's great to be a Florida Gator." I knew this was something I wanted to do--needed to do before leaving this university. If you've ever tried to explain Preview to someone, you can't. If you've ever tried to explain your experience as a staffer in just a few short words, you can't. But I will say this: I have grown so much as an individual from this summer. I have learned the lessons necessary for me to work in any field and be successful. I have learned the true definition of stamina and perseverance. I have learned how to work with a group of people with every type of personality imaginable. Lastly, I have learned the ins and outs of quality customer service. Previous staffers always say "I have grown so much from this experience," and I never understood what that meant until I went through the process myself. You are not only bettering yourself as a future gator but you are impacting the lives of future gators and their families. I am so thankful for this opportunity and I couldn't imagine my summer being any different. Apply to be a Preview Staffer.

Katelyn Adamson

Grad Year: 2015 | Mathematics | Miami, FL

Just over a year ago, I was trying to decide if I was going to apply to be a Preview Staffer. I knew it was something I was interested in from the moment I attended Preview in 2011, but wanting to do something and having the courage or taking the initiative to do it can sometimes be very different. For me, I hesitated to apply because it meant spending the summer away from my family and home. What I didn't realize at the time, however, was that in being a member of the Preview Staff, I was becoming a part of an even larger family within my own staff and the staffs that came before us. Preview has by far been one of the most exciting, life-changing experiences since I became a Gator. As staffers, we often try to explain what exactly we do, but no explanation can ever compare to having the experience first-hand which is why I, without reservation, recommend applying. The recruitment process can be intimidating because there are three separate and different types of interviews, but my biggest tip to anyone applying is to be yourself and don't let your nerves get the best of you- I promise no one is expecting you to be perfect! I have learned so much about myself and others, and I can now say I have had the opportunity to welcome over six thousand first-year students and their families to the University of Florida. Seeing the impact I have had as a staffer on the students and families entering the Gator Nation is surreal, rewarding, and it reminds me every day why it's great to be a Florida Gator. It has been an honor serving as a Preview Staffer and I am thrilled to be passing on this legacy and welcoming the next staff into our Preview Family.

Kelsea Grant

Grad Year: 2015 | Anthropology (Pre-Health) | Miramar, FL

Looking back on the summer I spent as a 2013 Preview Staffer, it’s hard to find one word that described my experiences; and that’s because there isn’t. When I applied, I hoped that being a Preview Staffer would allow me to serve the university that has given me so much, but in reality, I got that and SO much more. The process did not only teach me about the University of Florida but it also taught me about myself and allowed me to grow, personally, academically, and professionally. Being a part of this staff has taught me more about teamwork than I even knew there was to know. I have to admit that I was challenged in ways that I didn’t know were possible, but my staff and the professional staff empowered us to grow and gave me the strength and energy to keep on going. We came in as 40 individuals and left as 1 team, and I cannot be more proud of what we have accomplished as the 2013 Preview Staff. The true beauty of being a Preview Staffer is the legacy you leave with all of the students, families, faculty members, and campus partners that you get to work with. There is nothing more rewarding than watching new Gators fall in love with the university that you helped introduce to them. As a Preview Staffer, I’ve had the opportunity to reminisce with UF alumni, work with new Gators, and even impact future Gators. This is definitely one of the highlighted experiences of my undergraduate career. Preview is a major part of the past, present, and future of the University of Florida and I am so blessed to say that I was a part of that.

Kristina Pham

Grad Year: 2016 | Information Systems | Richmond, VA

I will never forget walking into Preview bright and early the morning after a long car ride, not knowing anyone. I made a promise to myself: if I stayed true to my own personality and kept a positive outlook on the next two days, then I would definitely have the time of my life. Walking to our room for the first small group, I overheard fellow students saying about the loud and cheery preview staffers, “I could never be this happy so early in the morning.” Secretly, I strongly disagreed. From that moment on, I knew I had to become a staffer.

Before I knew it, applications came out. The due date crept up on me, and eventually the first round of interviews presented themselves. Despite nervously wearing my name on my back and watching current staffers walk around taking notes on clipboards, I had a blast meeting a variety of personalities during the group process. Round 2 and Round 3 interviews allowed me to be myself, and I walked out of both feeling wonderfully. The excitement and hard work paid off.

Since then, I have had the absolute pleasure of working with 39 other amazing students, as well as fantastic professional staff, superb campus partners, and thousands of new students and families. Furthermore, there is no greater feeling than seeing the Preview family you’ve made, with new students, professional staff, and fellow staffers, on campus after sessions end.  Preview truly gives you an unbelievable view of the diversity present at the beautiful University of Florida.

Leslie Gaynor

Grad Year: 2015 | English | Tampa, FL

Being a Preview Staffer has meant growing—growing as a university and growing as an individual. It meant learning about my strengths and the strength of a team of 39 other people, and being able to recognize that those strengths have both basements and balconies. It meant finding myself through leadership and a love for the university that offered me everything I have.

If you’re thinking about applying to be a Preview Staffer, my advice to you is to be open to new experiences. While working with New Student and Family Programs, you will be introduced to various campus partners including deans and admissions officers, as well as the thousands of new students and families that we are welcoming to the University. You’ll have the chance to make a lasting impact on our incoming class, so remember what it felt like to walk on campus for the first time, and let that inspire your application essays.

Out of all of this, I can only promise you one thing: being a Preview Staffer changed my life. If you apply, be prepared for it to change yours.

Michelle Albert

Grad Year: 2015 | Public Relations | Margate, FL

I never thought that my workplace would become an active classroom. Throughout my Preview Journey, without even knowing it, I gained more understanding of my future career goals than I could have ever found in any summer experience.

Most people view Preview as only the parts that come together to create the whole: students, tours, cheers and advising, but preview is an experience. From the beginning, personal growth was encouraged, open mindedness was expected, personal responsibility is pushed, customer service skills were sharpened, communication skills were refined and a team-centered mentality was required.

It was an experience, however, that did not end once the last session came to a close. The skills with which Preview has equipped me have had a lasting impression on me as a student, leader, friend and employee. The friendships that were forged were created through the shared experience that only those who have been a part of preview will understand. I now have 39 new brothers and sisters.

For students interested in the 2014 Preview staff, know first and foremost that there isn’t a “type” of person that Preview seeks. My staff is diverse in leadership, personality and culture and I know that contributes to our success. Also realize that you won’t know everything, you just have to be willing to learn because similar to a classroom, what you put into Preview, you get out. “A” plus work will breed an “A” plus experience.

Morgan Conlon

Grad Year: 2015 | Nursing | Stuart, FL

My motivation to apply as a 2013 preview staffer was a result of my own preview experience three years ago. I did not have a life changing experience at my Preview, and honestly, I do not even remember my staffer’s name. Looking back, I knew that every student should go through Preview and feel welcomed and excited to start the most important 4 years of his/her life. I was up for the challenge. I also desired to be a part of a team. In high school, I always participated on sports teams and none of my UF involvement quite compared to my past team experiences. What I got out of this position was so much more than I could have ever expected. I truly believe I helped the new Gator Nation transition to UF. In addition to that, I gained amazing friends and grew as a professional and an individual. Despite the time commitment, my students’ joy and success truly make this experience worthwhile. The Preview experience is intense but it’s also the most unique thing you can be a part of at UF. It is definitely a life changing experience.

My best advice to anyone considering Preview is to apply! You may be surprised at how perfect of a fit you are for the staff. While you are going through the application process, be yourself. The round one interview is group style and is purely meant to evaluate how you work on a team. Remember, not everyone has to be the peppiest person or the leader for every assignment. The Dean of Students Office picks a TEAM of Preview Staffers. There is no mold or expectation for what they look for so don’t try to be anyone but you. If selected to be a staffer, you will learn that the Preview training class is not easy. It is extensive and meant to prepare you to be a liaison for the university, academic advisor and have personal skills. Get excited! Cherish every minute of your time on staff! I will always remember the summer that showed me my true potential.

Rachel Lowe

Grad Year: 2015 | Public Relations | Fort Pierce, FL

When I attended my Preview session during the summer of 2011, I was so nervous about my transition to college. I had convinced myself that if I didn’t like Preview, then I would just stay home and attend the community college. Looking back, I realize that was the wrong mindset to have coming into Preview and that’s why I am so thankful to have had my Preview Staffer. During the little time of two days, he had addressed all of my concerns and was so encouraging about me beginning my journey as a Florida Gator. Through my experience I realized I wanted to help other students who may have felt the same way I had. I wanted to pass on the encouragement and support that my Preview Staffer had given me.

This past summer has been one of the best experiences I’ve ever had! Not only did I help welcome in 6,600 incoming students to the University but I also did it alongside wonderful friends.  Through Preview I’ve had the chance to develop as an individual and a leader. I’ve gotten the opportunity to meet various campus partners, learn about academics and be a part of an amazing family. The bonds I have made with my other 39 staffers will forever be in my heart.

If you are at all interested in becoming a staffer, apply!! The selection process may be a little intimidating, but just be yourself! There isn’t a stereotypical staffer; everyone is unique. Where else do you get the privilege of influencing a nation you love? It’s such an amazing experience and I can guarantee you won’t regret it! Good luck and Go Gators!

Ricardo Salabarria

Grad Year: 2015 | Agricultural Education & Communication | Tampa, FL

When I got the email that I would become a 2013 Preview Staffer, I had no idea what I was in for. Since that morning in October, I have grown more as a leader and as an individual than I thought could be possible. Preview has taught me countless lessons in responsibility, character, and above all leadership. People may think that being a Preview staffer is a sacrifice, but in reality, I have gotten so much out of it. Becoming a part of Preview staff was a unique opportunity for me to give back to the University that I love while discovering more about who I was and developing into a servant leader. Preview has taught me how to go from being good to great.

This experience has been shaped by the experiences that I share with my staff. They were the rock I had to lean on at times when I was in need. Preview gave me the family that I was searching for here in Gainesville. Together we have experienced so much more than I am able to write, but above all things, they taught me humility and selflessness. As a preview staffer I became a part of a team and a part of something much bigger than myself and anyone reading this.  Become a staffer and you will have found a new family to help you grow in all aspects of your life. There is no question that if I had the opportunity, I would do it all over again without changing a thing.

I honestly cannot imagine spending my summer anywhere else but at the Reitz and Jennings Hall with the rest of staff. I applied for Preview because of the staffers who came before me that inspired me. If you are thinking about applying to become a Preview Staffer, don’t hesitate and just do it. Think about the ways you can grow and learn more about yourself to find your inspiration. Be yourself and prepare for the experience of a lifetime!

Sherin Thamarasseril

Grad Year: 2014 | Food Science & Human Nutrition (Pre-Health) | Pembroke Pines, FL

When thinking about milestones in your life, oftentimes you’d think of graduations, birthdays, and other significant life events. For me, the summer of 2013 will always be remembered as one of these times.
It’s where I worked my absolute hardest, met the most amazing Pubindividuals, and left a lasting impression on the newest members of the Gator Nation.

Being a Preview Staffer is one of highest levels of leadership offered at the University of Florida because it is an experience that truly shapes you, especially in terms of professional development. I entered Preview eager to help new students and families but throughout the process I gained certainty of who I am. I found meaning in all the little things I had always done and I can say with confidence that I attribute all of my self-assurance to Preview.

I remember throughout Preview sessions students would always ask how I had so much energy all the time and the secret is (drum roll please)…. my fellow staffers. 39 individuals with different backgrounds, views, and personalities were connected through the thickest of fibers, i.e. a love for their University. My motivation, my vigor, my entire experience of being on Staff was made up of these wonderful people who have become a family to me.

To those of you who are interested in applying, I highly encourage you to rise up to the challenge! It is an endeavor that will undoubtedly consume you, pushing you to wake up every morning to face a new challenge. Get ready to grow as an individual and as part of a team dynamic. The process may seem daunting initially but just take each round as it comes. The most important thing is to just be yourself, your best self. I believe that every person has greatness inside of them, so let that manifest itself. A dash of confidence and a pinch of faith can really go a long way. Good luck to all who apply! And as always, GO GATORS!

Theos Rizos

Grad Year: 2014 | Classical Studies & Criminology | Osteen, FL

Ever since I attended Preview, I knew that I wanted to become an orientation leader. I thoroughly enjoyed orientation, and sought to become a part of the Preview Staff team because I knew it would enable me to continue to grow as an individual and serve my university in one of the greatest student role model positions available. When I had applied to become a Preview Staffer, I did not fully understand what I was getting into. Experiencing Preview as an incoming student, I thought I understood what the Preview Staffer position entailed. In hindsight, my current perception of Preview as a staffer greatly differed from my prior experience as a new student.

Working with students, and families at Preview allowed me to improve my communication skills in ways in which I would not have imagined. I was challenged jumping into a variety of situations which I would not have normally have put me into as an individual who identifies as an introvert. The Preview Staffer position taught me to own up to my contributions, and to understand the significance that each individual plays in creating a positive experience for the entire process. The Preview Staffer position is truly one which encompasses a jack of all trades, and effectively allows individuals who participate in the experience to develop in a wide scope of areas throughout the entire experience.

Finally, serving as a role model and liaison to resources for new students was by far one of my most rewarding experiences of the Preview Staffer position. As a senior student at the University of Florida, being able to reach out and serve as a mentor for new students was perhaps one of the most meaningful portions of the position to me as it enabled me to effectively feel as though I had left my ‘mark’ at the University of Florida. The Preview Staffer position is a true honor, and one of the greatest opportunities available to a student at our university. If you are considering applying to become a Preview Staffer, I strongly recommend it as it is truly a unique and outstanding leadership opportunity of a lifetime.