Before her orientation at the University of Richmond even began, Kati Miller, ’14, found herself on stage performing her first saxophone solo in front of more than 100 people.

“It was brand new territory,” Miller says. “I was pretty nervous because it was my first public solo, but all of the Roadmap people were so supportive and we got a big round of applause at the end.”

Her early arrival on campus was part of Roadmap 1, a pre-orientation program designed to give first-year students a taste of college and get comfortable on campus before regular orientation begins.

Miller signed up for the short course Rhythm and Blues, co-taught by music professors Mike Davison and Gene Anderson. The class, which is an introduction to rhythm, style, articulation, and the soul of jazz and blues, culminated with the students’ composing and performing their very own “Roadmap Blues.” In addition, an impromptu jam session with Davison and other students led to another student performance, including Miller’s saxophone solo. She hadn’t expected to play much saxophone in college, but after the course, Davison encouraged her to get involved in the University’s Jazz Ensemble.

“If I hadn’t done Roadmap, I definitely wouldn’t have ended up in jazz band performing for Family Weekend,” she says.

For Miller, who was a little nervous about coming to college and being far away from home, Roadmap was a welcome introduction to campus life.

“I met so many amazing people through Roadmap, including many of my best friends,” she says. “By the time orientation started, I already felt at home on campus and knew so many people.”

The early start also gave Miller a chance to build a relationship with Anderson, who will be her advisor for her first two years of college.

“School had just started, and Dr. Anderson was already familiar with who I am, what my interests are, and where I want to go, which is great,” she says.

After facing her solo performance fears head on, Miller decided that college was the perfect time to challenge herself. “I am also terrified of heights, and because of that I decided to join to rock climbing club here,” she says. Her first time out, Miller climbed a challenging 5.9 rock wall — a rating signaling a steep grade of nearly vertical rock.

Her Roadmap experience also encouraged Miller to get involved in new activities. In addition to Jazz Ensemble, she signed up for the ultimate frisbee team, Zumba classes, a ballroom dancing class through the student club 8 Left Feet, and is involved in community service working with Latina families and helping translate legal and medical documents.