Visitors to a ROAR Session last fall pose with Herm the lion.

First ROAR Session kicks off this weekend for prospective Royals

EMU is rolling out the royal blue carpet.

The university will welcome a host of prospective undergraduate students and their families on Saturday for the first ROAR Session of the year. 

Each of the four open house programs provide a place for high school juniors and seniors to experience the culture at EMU and see what it’s like to be a student on campus. Those high schoolers, who might not have applied to EMU yet, attend panel discussions, participate in activities, take a tour of the campus, eat a complimentary meal in the dining hall and get answers to any questions they have. They can also audition for a spot in a music ensemble and potentially land a scholarship.

It’s too late to register for Saturday’s session, but registration is accepted for the next three sessions. ROAR Session 2 is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 18. The deadline to register for the event is noon on Nov. 10.

Registration can be completed online at

EMU student Ella Brubaker leads prospective students and their families on a campus tour at a ROAR Session last year.

This year’s series of ROAR Session events will have some noticeable changes.

Gone are the long lines of tables stretching down the hallway at the university fair. They will be replaced by an array of cocktail tables that elicit the feel of a mixer. The fair helps prospective students learn more about majors, campus programs, clubs and athletics. The updated format aims to get them more comfortable with wandering around and striking up conversations with faculty and students.

Herm, EMU’s mascot, will make more of an appearance this year. Cardboard cutouts of the blue lion will grace the tables at the university fair. A team of Royal Ambassadors will join in the enthusiasm, snapping pictures at the photobooth and hawking EMU merch at the swag shop. 

Saturday will also see the debut of a spirited school chant. And prospective students who make a tuition deposit can celebrate with a recent tradition: striking a gong in the admissions office. 

The biggest change might be the new name. What was labeled as Open House I before last year is now rebranded as ROAR Session 1. 

Previous open house campus visits were built for a different audience, says Mary Jensen, vice president of enrollment and strategic growth. They were more about communicating information and less about the experience.

The ROAR Session rebranding, along with the other updates, will help EMU more authentically express its identity to prospective students. It’s a way for the school to communicate the fun and welcoming vibe on campus. And it all fits into the invitation for prospective students to discover their passion, to follow their calling and to Find Your ROAR.

Mary Jensen, vice president of enrollment and strategic growth, speaks at a ROAR Session last year.

What’s in a name

“Find Your ROAR” packs a whole lot of meaning into a pithy tagline.

“Every word really says something about the way we go about education at EMU,” Jensen said.

“Find” evokes a sense of discovery and learning, and supports students in their path of exploration. “Your” focuses on helping students find their authentic and unique identities. And “ROAR” serves as not only a nod to Herm the lion, but also refers to each student’s passion and voice.

“When people find their place of passion and are able to let that shine, let that sing, let that be heard in the world, that’s what EMU wants to do, is help you find that place and then send you out into the world with your roar,” Jensen said. 

She noted that the tagline also helps dispel the stereotype of Mennonites being a quiet people. 

“Perhaps we’ve been seen as too humble,” Jensen said. “Peace is sometimes equated to passivity. And maybe we were not willing to be forthright about what we have to offer as being of value.

“We can’t be quiet; we don’t want to be the best-kept secret.”

Jensen, previously the associate provost of EMU at Lancaster, arrived in Harrisonburg in December 2021. She said she noticed that other universities used a tagline that tied into their identities. 

She tasked Fig Industries, a marketing agency based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, with developing one that EMU could use. The school has been gradually introducing it in speeches and marketing materials over the past year, but this semester it’s being put into full force.

“This is the first year we are all in on it,” Jensen said.

In her convocation speech kicking off the school year in August, President Susan Schultz Huxman shared an inspiring message encouraging students to “Find Your ROAR” at EMU

“This expression has multiple meanings and yet at its core we are saying: come to EMU where you can belong to a caring and compassionate community of learners in the Anabaptist tradition and become your authentic self, ready to find your calling to serve a God of love and light and make the world a better place,” she said. 

EMU Music Program Director David Berry talks to a prospective student at the university fair at a ROAR Session last year.

How to apply

Those interested in finding their roar at EMU as a first-year student can submit an online application, which is free, nonbinding and does not require an essay, at

The process typically takes between 10 and 15 minutes to complete, says Luke Litwiller, director of undergraduate admissions. Applicants are then asked to send a copy of their high school transcript to admissions. 

Litwiller said students can receive a merit-based scholarship decision at the same time as their admission decision. Because EMU uses rolling admissions for entry, those decisions can happen quickly.

“It can happen within two weeks, and often quicker,” he said.

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