By Ollin Garcia Pliego
During the last academic year the Students Affairs division, led by Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Nancy Truesdell, created the CORE Program to help first-year students become engaged with the Lawrence community and its resources. Last year’s implementation of CORE was under trial during Fall Term. This year, however, the program is being implemented in its entirety for the first two terms of the academic year.
CORE is led by two upperclassmen, called CORE group leaders, who are paired with a Freshman Studies class. CORE’s primary goals are to help students develop strong study habits, improve and increase communication with their academic advisors, handle their academic workload, understand campus resources and get oriented to campus.
Among CORE’s group of new students last year was sophomore Andrea Magaña, who thinks that the program is “especially helpful because I got to know my classmates better and I had better discussions in class; also, the CORE leaders gave me good advice regarding everything in school.”
The program’s leaders did a good job advising the freshmen about their professors’ academic expectations: “The CORE leaders gave me advice regarding the academic level expected from my professor so I adjusted to his academic needs,” said Magaña.
CORE leaders have demonstrated outstanding leadership and support for Lawrence’s educational system while promoting a strong sense of community in school. Junior Amanda Bourbonais feels good about her participation in the program.
“I was an RLA last year, so I was expecting CORE to be somewhat similar. In a lot of ways it is—getting to know freshmen, answering their questions, bribing them with food so they come to things—but CORE meetings have also allowed for more in-depth discussion on different topics like identity and wellness,” Bourbonais explained.
During the meetings, leaders and first-year fellows hold discussions involving campus resources, living in a residential campus and things that foster adaptation to a college life. However, the groups also do fun group activities. Junior CORE leader Eduardo Elizondo explains the activities prepared for his group:
“Usually [we] just sit around and talk about the topics that we have in hand that week, but we don’t just stick to those topics,” he said. He also affirmed that his group touches on topics “that relate to the whole Lawrence experience. This past week we planned a bonfire meeting by SLUG, where we talked about our experience so far during the first six weeks of the term,” Elizondo explained.
Additionally, Elizondo is concerned with helping first-year students improve their time management, an important and particularly useful skill at a school like Lawrence, “In one of the meetings, we talked about time management,” where students “[asked] about personal experiences, so we shared how we manage our time to be able to handle the workload.”
The freshman class’ opinion about CORE is essential to understand the achievements of the program thus far. Freshman Ryan Aiello thinks that the “program has been really helpful” because it has allowed him to meet different folks, “some of the people that [he] wouldn’t normally see in high school.” Moreover, Aiello confirms that he has “learned a lot of personal stuff within a month of knowing some of them.”
Thus, CORE achieves its main objectives, which are fostering social networking skills and making new friendships. Furthermore, Aiello enjoys the bonding activities of his crew, which “usually starts off with a game. Our group really likes catch phrase; other things that we’ve [played] are the telephone game,” although he clarified that they used drawings instead of words.
Contrary to one of CORE’s objective, Aiello does not see the program entirely related to study: “If anything, it’s time I should be studying. It’s kind of [like] any other group… except [it] is more organized.”
Likewise, Aiello does not think that the program has helped him to better communicate with his advisor yet. “I’m not saying that maybe it won’t in the future. We talked about advisors this past week. [Before,] I had no idea what the advisors were for, how to change advisors, what their job was even,” he said.