With classes at Hancock College now in full swing, more than 1,000 students flocked to the annual Bulldog Bow-WOW on Wednesday afternoon to learn how to get help and get involved this year.

The Week of Welcome event gives students a taste of student life on campus and connects them with various academic services, said Stephanie Robb, coordinator of student services.

"We have this event every (year) to promote all the programs and services the college offers," Robb said, adding that the Bow-WOW is similar to the Hancock Hello event held earlier this semester. "We want to connect students with the tools that are in place to help them be successful."

Approximately 70 different departments, services and student clubs or organizations were present at Wednesday's event. While the chartering process is still ongoing, Robb said that Hancock typically offers 40 clubs for students to join. She said the event plays an important role in promoting membership and fostering community.

"This is a great way for clubs to recruit new members and to show students what community life is like on campus," she said. "There are lots of opportunities for students to get involved and connected. There is really something for everyone."

Second-year music major Rodolfo Donamaria, who attended the event last year, credits it with spurring his involvement on campus.

"I wanted to explore and try to learn as much as possible," he recalled, adding that after attending, he immediately knew he wanted to get involved with the school's leadership program. "Now, I'm here to get as much information from each booth as I can."

Erik Sorensen, a second-year student, said he attended the Bulldog Bow-WOW to help recruit students for the college's Anime and Manga Club. While a big draw for the 30-person club is that their meetings are spent watching or discussing anime, Sorensen said what kept him returning was the sense of community among the members.

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"These are people who I knew would understand me on a more personal level because we share the same interests," he said. "I thought I was somewhat unique, but everyone seems to have the same thoughts and ideas. It's interesting watching them discuss what's cool or fun about an anime, especially finding people who agree with what I actually think is great."

While a large draw of the program was to connect students to campus organizations and resources, administrators used the opportunity to address campus concerns regarding Tuesday's decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

"We want to spread accurate information to our colleagues and community without causing more fear," Robb said. "We want to remind students that we are committed to supporting them, regardless of legal status."

Mathew Burciaga covers education in Santa Maria and the surrounding area for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Follow him on Twitter @math_burciaga

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