Happy Little (Palm) Trees
By Matt Morgan
Incoming first-year students created art and made new friends during a recent Bob Ross themed paint-along. The meet-up is one of dozens of online activities organized through Bronco Exchange this summer.
It’s been 27 years since the final episode of “The Joy of Painting,” but Bob Ross is still drawing young people together at Santa Clara.
Earlier this summer, admitted students from the class of 2025 joined a group of current Broncos online to paint “happy little trees” of their own. Students watched the episode “Waterfall Valley” from the late landscape painter’s YouTube channel and tried to recreate the scene from their homes around the world.
The meet-up was organized by Orientation leaders and hosted on Bronco Exchange, via Zoom.
“It was so neat to see everyone’s recreations,” James Mertke ’22 says. “When we did the final reveal of everyone’s paintings you were able to see everyone’s different interpretations of the same instructions.”
While the final products were impressive—see Mertke’s creation above— what the students painted wasn’t important, Mertke says. Instead, it was the opportunity to have a little fun and connect with future classmates that was meaningful.
“Bronco Exchange has so many great activities and is a great way to get connected with other incoming students,” Mertke says.
The Bob Ross painting night is among dozens of meetups organized by Bronco Exchange and Orientation 2021 this summer, all designed to help admitted students get a head start on building their college community. Bronco Exchange recently passed 4,000 community members with 1,361 students, 50 alumni, more than 340 prospective students from the Class of 2026, and 137 faculty and staff currently registered.
Just like his experience at Santa Clara University, Mertke says there’s something for everyone in Bronco Exchange: speed friending, a panel for students of color, mug recipe cooking, an involvement fair, and a game night where students play online games like Codenames or trivia. One of the newest features are pre-recorded video Q&A popups from student ambassadors who answer questions for students when they login.
“The Bronco experience definitely starts before you even step foot onto campus,” orientation leader Alexandria Perez ’23 says. “There are so many supportive people that will make your time here memorable.”
Perez admits she was a little nervous when she first joined the Bronco Exchange events, not knowing what to expect. To her pleasant surprise, she’s found people at events to be welcoming of all personality types: introverts can be introverts and extroverts can be extroverts.
For the past year, Perez has been a Bronco Exchange regular. She says some of her favorite sessions were the early morning events that Santa Clara hosts for students on the East coast, which sometimes lasted hours.
“Once, we stayed so late we made breakfast and lunch with each other on Zoom,” Perez says. “It was such a bonding experience. Some lifelong friendships were made that day.”
Admitted SCU students are encouraged to sign up for online events on Bronco Exchange and for Orientation 2021 online sessions, both of which run all summer. All incoming students must complete their orientation modules by September, including Academic Advising & Course Registration.
First-year and transfer students can register for their orientation session on the Orientation 2021 website.