Larry Daves, 19, of Medford, helps incoming freshman feel welcome...

Larry Daves, 19, of Medford, helps incoming freshman feel welcome when they attend Orientation Week at Hofstra University. (July 26, 2011) Credit: Alexi Knock

Larry Daves breaks the silence and causes laughter in a dorm room full of texting 18-year-olds by cracking jokes and starting introduction games.

Daves, 19, of Medford, is spending his second summer at Hofstra University helping the incoming freshmen feel welcome in their new home for the next four years.

With meager pay and almost 40-hour work weeks, Daves, a junior majoring in mass media, doesn’t participate in Hofstra’s orientation week for the money. He does it to make sure the incoming students have as much fun at the university as he did.

“I like that I get to perform as myself to 250 students every week,” Daves said. “I hardly go home even though I live the closest out of the leaders because I love it here.”

Each week, a group of new students pour into Hofstra for an orientation filled with games, campus tours, learning and 20 orientation leaders. Daves and other leaders spend their weekdays helping, entertaining and keeping the freshmen on track to a successful college career.

“Right away he was very welcoming and didn’t try to act like he was higher than us,” said incoming freshman Alexandra Zimmerman, 18, of Morristown, N.J. “I feel like we could talk to him about anything.”

As an only child, Daves grew up spending most of his summers at home with his mother. “I’ve always felt alone during the summer so it’s great to have these 19 built-in brothers and sisters with me all the time,” Daves said of his orientation staff.

Daves got involved immediately on campus when he arrived at Hofstra in September 2009. Although he lives much closer than most Hofstra students, he chose to live in the dorms.

“Larry is very devoted to his students and goes into every orientation week aiming to make it special,” said Chelsea Tirrell, 20, another orientation leader from Rhode Island.

Although most of the orientation leaders come from out of state – as far as Texas – they agree that there are clear benefits to having a staff member from Long Island.

“Larry knows the area well and his eagerness and outgoing personality really helps students feel comfortable asking questions in their new environment,” said Jaclyn Congello-Vento, Hofstra’s assistant director of Student Leadership and Activities. “He’s very passionate about Hofstra.”