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First Year Experience

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photo of Jamie Gutierrez

Jamie Gutierrez

Assistant Director, Residence Life and First Year Experience
Davis Community Center
I was born and raised in Lomita, CA. I began my undergraduate studies at Chapman in the fall of 2008. As a first-generation college student, my transition to Chapman was not easy. I think back on my experience and I credit the work done by Student Affairs professionals that allowed me to develop holistically. I was fortunate as an undergraduate to serve as an Orientation Leader and Orientation Coordinator. I graduated in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts in Integrated Educational Studies and in 2015 with a Master of Arts in Leadership Development. Prior to serving as the Assistant Director of Residence Life and First Year Experience, I supported the Office of Orientation and First Year Programs as the Graduate Assistant and Program Coordinator. I love Chapman University and I can't wait to share that with incoming students!
photo of Jordan Vaughn

Jordan Vaughn

Program Coordinator, Residence Life andFirst Year Experience
Davis Community Center
I recently relocated to Orange County to pursue a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy here at Chapman University. I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of San Diego in May of 2016, and officially decided that I did not want to leave Southern California any time soon! I have always loved how special and unique a college community feels. This has fueled my passion for leadership and creating campus connections. I hope to assist the department in creating a welcoming and open environment for every incoming and current student here at Chapman University!
photo of David Brown

David Brown

Graduate Assistant, Orientation and First Year Programs
Davis Community Center
I am currently in the Marriage and Family Therapy program here at Chapman. I obtained my bachelor’s degree at California State University Long Beach where I studied Psychology and Child Development and Family Studies. Throughout my education I have always appreciated the support that has been provided by professors and educational counselors. Their support allowed me to make a smoother transition into college life and allowed me to thrive. For the past two years, I have been working with youth in crisis, where I was the one to support them in their time of need; I have found this work extremely rewarding. Now that I am transitioning to the First Year Experience team, I am excited to continue providing support as I work with first year students. My hope is to help them make Chapman a home.
photo of Breil Bonaguro

Breil Bonaguro

Orientation Coordinator, Communication and Promotion
I grew up in a small town in San Diego County and was not very familiar with the intricacies of college, as I am a first generation college student. I did not know where I was going to be able to find my home or if the transition would allow me to feel at home wherever I chose. Due to financial reasons, Chapman was the only school I could tour on my acceptances list and I am extremely grateful that it was. The second that I toured Chapman’s campus I knew that this was the place for me. When I found out more about Chapman I realized that it checked every box that I did not know that I had. From small class sizes, to a variety of organizations and clubs, to an amazing location, Chapman began to feel like my home. The transition into university was not easy but with the support of my parents, the friends I found early on, and my involvement with on campus organizations I was able to find myself feeling more and more at home here. This all began with Orientation where I found my best friend and learned all of the ways I can make my Chapman experience my own. Before my sophomore year started I was able to serve as an Orientation Leader and throughout this experience I found so much more confidence in myself and my decision to come to Chapman. I was surrounded by passionate people that had one common bond; their love for Chapman. This group of people inspires me each day and I’m so excited to help make the magic of Orientation happen through my new role as an Orientation Coordinator!
photo of Nicole Howard

Nicole Howard

Orientation Coordinator, Operations and Logistics
Upon arrival at Chapman, I knew that I found a place that would allow me to flourish as a person. I was not nervous at all but excited to get out of the small town I grew up in. Throughout my first year, I met countless warm and welcoming people, had beach bonfires, went on day trips to San Diego and L.A., but I still felt like I did not have a meaningful connection to Chapman. Between my first and second year, I thought about transferring, but luckily gave Chapman another chance. My second year I got involved by being an orientation leader, joining Kappa Delta Pi and Gamma Beta Phi (honor societies on campus), working for residence life and first year experience as an office assistant, attending many Chapman sports games, volunteering in the community, among other things. This is when I finally realized that for me to feel at home somewhere, I must be involved and give back to the community. I could finally say, without a doubt, Chapman is my home. I am now going into my third year and could not be happier. Of course, I have had ups and downs with friends, stressful weeks with school and work, and days where I question myself, but on those rough days, I always have people to build me up and help me out. The community, the resources, the support I have from peers and faculty at Chapman is something I did not expect to get during my college experience but is a huge reason I am grateful to be a panther. All my experiences, good and bad, are the reason I am an Orientation Coordinator today. I want to share and use my experiences to make events and programs to welcome and support incoming students and families. Every person coming to Chapman is going to have their own journey and I can't wait to see the start of your college journey at orientation. Welcome to the Chapman family!
photo of Daniel Mejia

Daniel Mejia

Orientation Coordinator, Family and Transfer Orientation
I was raised in Santa Ana, CA and so am a local of the area. I attended a University of California school and transferred after only one quarter. Since my arrival at Chapman in Spring 2019, I have done nothing but enjoy and appreciate my time here. I am currently a sophomore student majoring in psychology and double minoring in organismal biology and history. I am part of the Ice Hockey team, a University Program Board member, am a radio host on my own Chapman Radio show, actively involved in a few student organizations, and am looking to join a fraternity this semester. But above all, I was an Orientation Leader this past summer. The description of my involvement hopefully shows how many different ways there are to be involved on campus. Moreover, it shows how great and diverse this campus is and how special it can be. This year, I am the Family and Transfer Orientation Coordinator and am looking forward to working closely with families and transfer students. I am thrilled for Orientation Week and for the process to begin. Chapman is such a beautiful and special environment that is waiting with open arms for your arrival. I am very excited to extend my warmest welcome, my devoted attention, my deepest gratitude, and sincere delight to all prospective students, families, and incoming students. Welcome to Chapman and welcome home, Panthers!
photo of Maddie Milla

Maddie Milla

Orientation Coordinator, Academic Initiatives and Special Events
I was born in Lakewood, raised in Bellflower, and went to school in Long Beach. I’m about to enter my final year as an Environmental Science & Policy major and a Leadership Studies minor at Chapman University. Before starting college, I remember being worried about transitioning and fitting in to this new environment as smoothly as possible, making friends, and finding people that I can relate to. It’s funny how I thought this concern was uniquely my own, however, after talking with friends I discovered we were all nervous about this next chapter of our lives. It took some time to find my place within the Chapman community, but as soon as I found ‘my people’ and became more involved on campus, I felt at home. As a first-generation college student I didn't know all of the ins-and-outs of college, therefore, I aspired to be the person that I needed during my first year at college for other students. A few ways I was able to accomplish this during my time at Chapman was: mentoring the class of 2022 & 2023 Give Something Back Scholars, being a Rho Gamma, becoming the Academic Peer Advisor for my major, and serving as an Orientation Leader for 2 years. These were extremely rewarding experiences. Now I have the great pleasure and honor of serving as an Orientation Coordinator. I am excited to work alongside the Residence Life & First Year Experience team to provide incoming students and families not only a warm welcome, but the support they need to facilitate the transition to Chapman University. Welcome to Chapman and #GoPants!

Meet the Orientation Leaders!

Our Orientation Leader Staff consists of over 100 student leaders from various areas of study, student organizations and clubs, honors societies, and sports teams. They can't wait to meet you this upcoming orientation!

Click here to read their bios!

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