Campus tour guides help new students find the right fit

February 11, 2013 - Orillia, ON

“Searching for the university that’s perfect for you?...”

You may have heard this intro to Lakehead’s radio ad recently – the voice you hear belongs to Liz Breton, a Lakehead Orillia student who is inviting listeners to visit the University.

Along with Dave Venneri, the two Lakehead students act as Lakehead’s official tour guides, and when it comes to knowing everything there is to know about the Orillia campus and life at Lakehead, they are the experts.

From how to find an essay topic in the library’s online database, to where the nearest health food store is, to how the school’s smart classroom technology works, Venneri and Breton can answer almost anything asked about the campus.

According to the guides, however, their knowledge of campus facts and figures is not the most important part of their jobs as part-time tour guides.

“Our job is to help ease in new students to university life; to help them understand what university is all about,” explains Breton. “ Prospective students need to be able to picture themselves here.”

“You can’t overestimate the value of a campus tour,” adds Venneri. Whether you live in residence or not, you’ll be spending four years of your life here and you have to feel comfortable.”

“During a tour, we are able to share experiences that younger students can relate to,” says Breton. “We’re close to their age and can share the excitement, as well as the apprehension, that we went through when starting university.”

Breton, from Midhurst, said she chose Lakehead over other schools even though the new campus was just a roadside sign at the time of her initial visit. “It was the friendly atmosphere and warm, welcoming people I met, that made me realize that Lakehead was for me. I wanted to grow as a person and become independent and I felt at a smaller, growing school I would have more of a chance of doing that.”

For Venneri, of Vaughan, it was the chance to move away from home and still be fairly close to Toronto. Now in his second year, Venneri says he is extremely happy with his decision and has seen his experience at Lakehead become more meaningful after getting involved with campus activities and life.

Being a tour guide is part of that experience. “I enjoy meeting people, talking to them and learning about their lives,” said Venneri.  “During tours, we make a unique connection with people and we really have an influence on the decisions they make, so it makes me feel helpful. I now feel confident talking to anyone; this opportunity has really given me new social skills.”

Venneri adds that relating to parents is also an important part of conducting campus tours. “Parents ask good questions and they also provide lots of feedback.”

“You can see parents start to feel comfortable during a tour,” explains Breton; they can actually visualize their kids coming here. And they have a field day with excitement during the residence portion of the tour!”

“People hear about a small campus with 1,400 students and they underestimate the possibilities,” adds Venneri. “Once they are here, they not only see the impressive facilities, but learn about how students can get involved and fit in.”

Campus tours are offered by appointment (or self-guided by chance) and can be customized to suit the interests of the visitor. “If a prospective student has older siblings at university, or already knows quite a bit, and wants to compare features, we will offer a tour that is somewhat different from a first generation student who is approaching university from scratch,” explains Venneri.

In addition to customized tours, Venneri and Breton are responsible for leading group tours at many of the campus’s special events, such as the annual March Break Open House. This year’s Open House takes place from March 11 – 13 and offers visitors a chance to experience all that Lakehead University has to offer.

For more information, visit or to book a tour, call 705-330-4008 ext. 2150.


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 Lakehead students Dave Venneri and Liz Breton are Lakehead Orillia’s official tour guides are always look forward to welcoming visitors to enjoy a campus tour.

Lakehead students Dave Venneri and Liz Breton are Lakehead Orillia’s official tour guides and always look forward to welcoming visitors to enjoy a campus tour.