SOAs learn valuable skills while leading at Tech’s SOAR

Incoming Tech students pose at Fearless Falls on Tech's Centennial Plaza during a SOAR session this summer.
Incoming Tech students pose at Fearless Falls on Centennial Plaza during a SOAR session this summer.

The Student Orientation Assistants at Tennessee Tech University have learned a lot about themselves and the university’s incoming freshman class as they lead incoming freshmen during the Student Orientation, Advisement and Registration process this summer. 

For SOAs Brady Goodman and Rebekah Reed, helping to lead at SOAR this summer has also been an experience that allowed them to improve their own skills while helping others.  

Goodman, a sophomore electrical engineering major from Harriman, said he has grown and changed from this job “significantly.” Having worked as a waiter before becoming an SOA, he knew some skills of interacting with other individuals, but said being an SOA ascended his interpersonal skills to new heights.

“I learned how to handle different conversations and interact with people of varying positions,” Goodman said. “I have become a more effective communicator in multiple scenarios and am happy to see myself becoming better each day.”

Reed, a freshmen architecture and housing and design major from Smyrna, said both her interpersonal skills and leadership skills have improved “immensely” as a result of her role as an SOA. 

SOAs Brady Goodman and Rebekah Reed
SOAs Brady Goodman and Rebekah Reed.

Courtney Brehm, director of new student and family programs, said that one thing the SOAs always say is that they learn a lot about themselves, their teammates, their job and the campus throughout the SOA training process and then in their SOA roles. 

“One surprising thing I have learned being on the flip side, being an SOA, from my SOAR as a freshman last year is understanding the number of hours so many people devote to make SOAR the exceptional program it is,” Goodman said. “Their work ethic is what makes Tech and freshman SOAR such a pleasant and reassuring school and program.”

Reed said what has surprised her the most is the overwhelming support from not only the faculty but also the parents of the incoming students. 

“They've been so supportive of what we're doing, and they don't know how much we appreciate it,” Reed said. 

SOAs come from across campus and include students who have been at Tech for varying amounts of time, giving a diverse look at the campus experience to the new students and their families.

“My favorite thing about SOAR has been the comforting feeling I witnessed as a freshman that is given by our SOA team,” Goodman said. “College can be a scary transition, but seeing my teammates and I give incoming freshman comfort and to have them come up to you afterward and thank you for how you helped nervousness become excitement is very rewarding.”

Brehm said the program enlists representatives from various campus departments and resources to come in and help educate the SOA team about campus resources.

“I have met many freshmen that are interested in varying things,” Goodman said. “I believe anyone who decides to become a Golden Eagle is making a wonderful decision as Tech has what you need to grow and become the best version of yourself.”

Goodman said that something he learned about the freshman class is the sense of this class being so talented. He met new students that have accomplished and done incredible feats either academically or personally that awed him. 

“I believe every individual in the class will bring something valuable to Tech and the world someday. As for myself, I think I learned and discovered my true heart's desire and gift,” Goodman said. “This job has been so rewarding for me. I aspire to become a professor and continue working with students and guiding them to become the best versions of themselves.”

Reed said she has learned during the SOAR sessions that every freshman is different. One freshman may want to trash-talk you in volleyball, and another freshman could want to just sit and talk. She feels it's important to know that this time is for them and to be able to pull from different resources to make their experience as amazing and helpful as possible. 

“As for me, I've noticed that I like being put into situations where I have to lead. It's one of my stronger traits and I've definitely noticed it more during this summer,” Reed said.

Goodman advises the incoming freshman to embrace the challenge. He understands it is a scary time, but it also comes with a great degree of excitement.

“Meet this challenge head on and start building the foundation that will direct you to what you desire. Make connections with like-minded individuals and push yourself every day,” Goodman said. “If you do these things, you will find a strong sense of self-actualization and be well on your way to leaving your mark on this university, and the world. Wings up!”

Reed’s best advice she would give to a freshman is that every student's journey is going to be different. 

SOAR sessions run through August 1.

For more information about SOAR, including session dates and registration, visit

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