The HOP to HOOP – Creating On-Campus Orientation for Transfer Students

By Grace Becker
Flapjack staff

After a long year at college, the first week students spend on campus seems a long way in the past. The impact of that first week, however, has the potential to be very influential on the success of a student’s time at HSU.

John Barajas is a transfer student here at HSU. A graduating senior, Barajas has been working over the last two semesters to advocate for and create an on-campus orientation program for transfer students at HSU.

“My experience with orientation wasn’t what I was expecting, and isn’t what I think I or other transfer students need. We don’t know the area just like freshmen don’t know the area, and for most of us it’s our first time at a University too. I think it’s important for transfer students to get the same information when they decide to come here,” Barajas said.

Freshman entering Humboldt State for the first time get a vastly different experience than transfer students. The week before classes start, freshman students get the full HOP experience, exploring the campus with other freshman and learning about the resources available to them during their time at Humboldt State.

Transfer students, on the other hand, don’t get the same level of attention. Over the summer, incoming transfer students do online training with the Humboldt Online Orientation Program (HOOP). It takes a few hours to go through, and while it does provide information about resources and issues at Humboldt State, some transfer students have found issue with the level of attention paid to transfer students.

“You do HOOP over the summer,” Barajas explained. “By the time I was on-campus, three months after I did the online orientation, I had pretty much forgotten everything HOOP told me. And there were some things I wish I knew about that HOOP didn’t even touch.”

Barajas has lived on campus since he arrived in Fall 2014. He was placed in freshman housing, and while he doesn’t regret living there and is still friends with some of the people he met living there, he wishes that he had been able to meet and live with people closer in age to him.

“It would have been nice to have been able to connect with older students, especially other transfer students,” Barajas said. “And I know other transfers feel the same. Having an on-campus orientation for them could really help with that.”

As it turns out, the campus is listening to students like Barajas. The HOP office is currently working to create time and space for transfer students to attend an on-campus orientation like freshman do. Nick Conlin is the Coordinator for Orientation and New Student Programs here at HSU and has been working with Barajas and other students to integrate transfer students into HOP.

“We’re seeing a lot more transfer students enter HSU,” Conlin said. “We’re working to try to provide them the resources they need to be successful here on campus.”

Creating a transfer-specific orientation is a lot of work, something Barajas and fellow transfer student Cat Garibay know very well. Recently they’ve sat down with Conlin to help provide information about what kinds of things transfer students would want and need at an orientation.

“You can’t just give them the same things freshman get,” Garibay explained. “Yeah, info about resources and campus tours could be the same or similar, but transfer students have different things they care about or that pertain to them.”

These things include more career-orientated mentoring, mingling with older students, and attention to detail about mental health and addiction problems.

“It’s going to be a long process,” Barajas said. “But I hope it will really pay off in the end.”







Opera’s not ‘old-timey’ after all, music student discovers

By Grace Becker
Flapjack staff

The first singer of the music department’s learning session March 17, Jessie Neuffer, 21, walked out in a black and gold mermaid-style dress. Short, dark hair pulled back against her she smiled at the applause from her classmates and friends, and stood quietly as her accompanying pianist sat at the massive Steinway. Maybe someone who didn’t know what they would be watching would have expected something different, but as Neuffer opened her mouth, a flowing, elegant, Japanese opera echoed through the music department performance hall.

A student at California State University Stanislaus, Neuffer is in her third year at the school. She lives in nearby Modesto, and commutes five days a week, attending her voice and music theory classes, as well as performing in “directed learning” performances where she performs a piece in front of her classmates and professors.

Opera wasn’t always on the table, however. While Neuffer always knew she wanted to be a singer, and has taken lessons since she was in the fourth grade, it wasn’t something she really enjoyed.

“I love classical music, but I hated opera,” Neuffer explained. “I actually started studying music at Stanislaus State with a plan to go on Broadway but I wanted classical training. It wasn’t until my sophomore year that I started to like opera.”

It was the role of Cherubino from the opera Le Nozze di Figaro that started Neuffer’s love of opera. Cherubino is what is known as a “pant role” or “trouser role,” which is when a woman plays a man or a boy.

“I always though opera was so boring because you had these long arias that never seem to end and you had to play these boring female roles of like, the main, or the gossipy servant, or a mother, or the damsel in distress,” Neuffer said.

It turned out, though, that with her voice type she can play all the pant roles that she thinks are really fun. After getting the role of Cherubino she did more research and opera quickly became an obsession.

“Now I really think that opera is a lot more interesting than most people know,” Neuffer said. Her love of opera is very evident in the way she describes it. It has dramatic story lines that are fun to perform, and isn’t just this ‘old timey, stuffy kind of art.’

Opera is hard, though. Neuffer explained that it is challenging because there is a great deal of technique just in the singing alone, not to mention the acting and sometimes even dancing. You sing opera without microphones, so your voice has to be able to carry in big opera houses.

“Also the language…that is a whole other story,” Neuffer sighs. “You have to try to connect to the text and know the language as much as possible. Most opera singers speak many different languages that they sing in.” Neuffer has sung in Japanese, French, Russian, German, and Italian, though she cites German has her favorite to sing in.

“I just love all of the consonants and the sounds you make that sound like you’re clearing your throat. I like taking all of those sounds and using them to my advantage to make the diction and the scene more dramatic,” Nueffer described.

Though opera is a more recent obsession, her love of music is a family affair.

“Music is something I grew up with,” Neuffer explained. Both of her parents are music teachers, and her father performs with different orchestras. Her mother teaches band, orchestra, guitar, choir, and winter percussion. Music has always been a big part of her life.

Close friends and classmates praised Neuffer’s talent, as well as her progression as an artist. Nueffer’s partner, Jaime Farrar, commented on her transformation.

“It’s not just her singing, which is great, but just the way she holds herself,” Farrar said. “It’s very poised, and kinda just captures your attention. She’s always been amazing, but watching her grow has been awesome.”








Dentist by day job: A local author’s first book launch (add source)

Author Richard Benoit speaks to a crowd of friends, family, and literary lovers during the launch of his first book on Feb. 8.




























By Grace Becker
Flapjack staff

Is your dentist an author? If you see Richard Benoit, DDS for all your dental needs, then yes.

On the rainy evening of Wednesday, Feb. 8, local Arcata denizens gathered in the library fishbowl for the book launch gathering of Benoit’s book “A Pinch of Powder.” The room was filled mostly with older folks, contrasted against the many college students just outside the glass room studying for their classes.

Benoit started off humorously, as he knew most of the room personally.

“Those of you who know me know I’m not a writer by day job,” he said. He was never interested in writing, studying science all through college, and remembers being intimidated by writing. It wasn’t until after he graduated from dental school and spent a year in Guatemala that the writing began. “I should write about that,” he remembered thinking about his experiences.

His first time writing didn’t exactly go smoothly. After writing 2000 pages (of which he admitted being very critical of), he put the book away and hasn’t looked at it since. He admits being naïve as he was writing “A Pinch of Powder,” and didn’t realize how much went into getting published – writing, reading, editing, marketing, and so on.

“It’s all a part of the process,” Benoit said, mentioning that he is very grateful for his editor, though he added that the two of them “did not agree” at times during the process.

Since that first attempt, however, Benoit has written several books, both for adults and children. He has nine books finished, and when someone asked him how he changed from being uninterested and intimidated by writing to having written nine books, Benoit credited being less inhibited – by being out of school full time, he has more time and more inspiration for writing.

The book is for both children and adults. It is the first book in his Pulvology Series – Pulvology being a word made up by Benoit to mean “the study of powders.” It was born from stories he told his children when they were younger, and now finds itself a full length novel. Benoit read a bit from his book during the launch. The audience got to meet the young protagonists, Jim and Carries Hughes, who find themselves in the company of the eclectic Mrs. Simonson after they move to Ohio from Oregon.

Benoit mentioned wanting to have strong female characters in his book. He’s heard about girls being uninterested or discouraged from getting into science, and wanted to show that science could be fun. He also made mention of the current political administration being somewhat anti-science, adding another aspect of social awareness to the overall writing.

This being his first book launch, Benoit was welcomed warmly by those in the room, and everyone cared deeply for the author’s effort and intent. The aspect of a small town coming together to celebrate a friend and neighbors accomplishments was present in the library fishbowl. Benoit mentioned naming the main characters of his book after close friends, one of which who was sitting in the back of the room near me. The man called Jim smiled and laughed as Benoit gestured to him, the honor of having been a namesake evident on his face.

“It’s fantastic,” Jim said after the fact. “I’m overjoyed.”

While the book had just been released, not many people were able to comment on its contents. Those present, however, had faith in Benoit’s writing ability and by the end of the event all copies the author had for sale were bought, signed, and in the eager hands of readers ready to devour them.

Benoit has the next two books in his Pulvology Series finished, so if you’re interested in giving “A Pinch of Powder” a read, you won’t have long to wait for the next leg of the story.

Click here to see more info about “A Pinch of Powder.”