Student Support is searching for volunteers to accommodate the record enrollment anticipated this fall semester.
Trevor Nally, a junior studying business management, volunteers as the director for Get Connected.
Nally said students interested in volunteering should come to the second floor of the William F. Rigby Building to visit the main offices of Student Support. There are weekly meetings Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m. in Rigby 272 for those interested in volunteering.
“Our incoming class is about 5,200, and based off of our percentage of how many of those that attend, usually about 60 percent, we will need 250 mentors in order to accommodate the 125 I-Teams,” Nally said. “We’re growing, and we need more than we’ve ever needed before.”
Students are not required to attend Get Connected, according to the Student Support web page. However, it is strongly recommended that students attend because it gives them information on how they can be involved early on.
Nally said the program is changing this year because the I-Team group leaders, now called mentors, are expected to give more to their I-Teams.
“(They) now mentor for these new students,” Nally said. “Their responsibilities now extend past those first two days of Get Connected. They’re meant to be their first friend and act as a guide and ambassador for the school and its programs, help them with any academic needs or spiritual needs or emotional needs that they may have.”
Nally said these new expectations are not necessarily new. He said expectation has always been that the mentors stay in touch with the students; now it is being recorded.
“We’ve always encouraged them to go above and beyond, to stay these people’s friend and to create a culture of friendship in their group,” Nally said. “Now we’re just requiring it and tracking it with numbers.”
Nally said the best group leaders have already been doing this and are excited about the change.
“The 60 (mentors) we have are all excited about it,” Nally said. “Most of those people have done I-Team group leader before, and they know how fun it can be. It’s exciting, and it’s fun to be a part of these new students lives in that way.”
Nally said the whole purpose of this change was to keep students from falling through the cracks.
“It’s very much based on the principle of find the one,” Nally said. “There are people in these groups that never make a friend. Our hope is that is these mentors are trained right and are excited enough about what they’re doing, people won’t have to experience college in that way.”
Daniel Hale, a sophomore studying communication, volunteers as one of the group leaders that trains those who will train the student mentors. He said the volunteers reap the rewards of service and involvement as well.
“It’s really good for the volunteers as well,” Hale said. “It really pushes them and it’s motivating to hear that people are looking to me and they can see my potential. Not only do we want these programs to help the new students coming in, but it’s also to help a lot of the students who want to get involved to build leadership and people skills. Those of us who volunteer reach more of our potential.”
Hale said that as changes are being made in how the group mentors are trained, his particular role will not change much.
“Ultimately, how I train the group leaders doesn’t change a whole lot from how it’s been in the past,” Hale said. “My particular role on training the I-group leaders is that way they’re at a position where they know the theme of what we want Get Connected to be. They understand their role for these other volunteers.”
Nally said instruction filters through a small army of volunteers and teachers.
“You can see how it would be hard for 15 of us to interact with 500 volunteers and then from there to interact with thousands of students that come, and so our program kind of works as a pyramid, and the more clear we are in our instruction, the better everything goes down in the lower areas,” Nally said.
Nally said the goals of the pyramid training system Student Support has is to give students the opportunity to get involved.
“The volunteers that Daniel trains are people that we already feel are great student leaders on the campus,” Nally said. “The point is to give them resources and instruction on how they can train these other volunteers.”
Nally said he hopes the students who attend or volunteer for Get Connected will stay involved in the program.
“There’s so many ways to get involved with Student Support, and Get Connected tends to be most people’s first contact,” Nally said. “They hear about Get Connected before they hear about the other things we do here.”
Nally said inspiring the leaders to pass on the motivation to get involved has been a big job. He said that changes come continually from President Clark Gilbert.
“He’s asked the whole Student Support program to create these councils and oversee it,” Nally said. “They’ve instructed our program to head this up, and the way that made the most sense was just to incorporate an existing 17-year program of new student orientation into transitioning and mentoring for these new students.”