It’s your typical Florida scene: flip-flops in the sand, verdant green palm trees and treasures just waiting to be discovered.
Except this scene is in miniature, and the treasure isn’t buried. It’s a message in a bottle to welcome incoming students to PBA, weeks before they arrive on campus to chart their own adventures.
Unlike ancient, mysterious messages in a bottle, the sentiments of these missives are clear. Leave behind the chilly winters, the icy blasts of wind. There are only summery, sunny days and miles of pristine beaches here. This is your new home.
It’s a long-standing PBA tradition to mail the small gifts to out-of-state students. The admissions staff collaborates on crafting the messages, which vary from year to year. Most recently, the notes said: “Congratulations on your acceptance to Palm Beach Atlantic University! We can’t wait for you to explore all of the opportunities available to you in Downtown West Palm Beach. The weather is pretty great too!”
“We just love to send future Sailfish a little bit of Florida until they get here,” said Lexie Britt, admissions communication coordinator.
A team from admissions puts together the bottles, and they’re shipped to destinations all over the country. Every once in a while, a student worker who helped with the assembly shares a story from a classmate.
“Someone brought it up, and they all started talking about how amazing it was,” Britt said. “Sometimes we’ll get a shout-out on social media.”
The special notes are only one way PBA seeks to show radical hospitality to its newest students. Upperclassmen plan a full week of activities to help freshmen acclimate to their new home spiritually, academically and socially. Freshmen are assigned to Fish groups led by two upperclassmen.