'Connecting' With First-Year Students

Group photo: University Honors Program Transfer Connection, 2015.
Last year’s University Honors Program Transfer Connection, pictured with the facilitator, Heidi van Beek (kneeling, far left), assistant director of the UHP.

Through the work we do every day, as faculty, staff and graduate students, each of us plays a role in the education and experience of our students. But we can help even more as facilitators for First-Year Aggie Connections, a collaborative effort of Student Affairs and Undergraduate Education.

The program enables instant “connections” between new students and UC Davis “veterans” — faculty, staff and grad students who are knowledgeable about campus resources — and among freshmen and new transfer students with similar interests.

Each facilitator is matched with a group of about 25 first-year students in a “Connection.” All Connections are different — some are associated with for-credit seminars, others are affiliated with on-campus groups, and others are based on common academic or co-curricular interests.

Facilitators are being recruited now for the fall quarter. “This past fall, which was our pilot launch of the program, we had 50 Connections,” said Julianne Smith, First-Year Aggie Connections coordinator at the Student Academic Success Center. “We hope to have around 200 in fall 2016.

She said she’s also planning for winter and spring Connections, to “connect” students who do not participate in the fall, or who transfer in after the fall.

Anyone interested in being a facilitator must submit a connection proposal that clearly states an academic or co-curricular theme, and commit to working with that connection for one quarter, meeting six times to share campus culture and traditions, and provide an opportunity for students to build social connections, and explore academic and career interests.

Peer mentors are available to work with connections, to provide additional support to students, as well as to plan campus engagement activities.

Connection proposals for fall 2016 are due by May 13. More information is available online. Questions? Send an email to aggieconnect@ucdavis.edu.

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