Peers Help Ease Transition Period

Courtney Garloff, Print Editor

Before most of the student population moved in for the fall semester, Peer Advocates were helping the new members of the community adjust to the school.

Peer Advocates also had its own change to adjust to. Usually, members only help the first years with their transition to a new location. Now, they are also transitioning the transfer students.

“It’s their first year here. Their needs might be a little bit different in that they might understand what college is about, but they don’t know what MU is about,” said Dr. Cindy March, faculty advisor for Peer Advocates.

Peer Advocates and March evalu- ated all programs and service projects newbies were a part of during the previous year. While the Advocates were pleased with efforts to help first year students adjust to college life, they wanted to do with transfer students.

The Peer Advocates themselves, said, ‘What about the transfers? What are students doing for them to help them adjust?’” said March.

These questions led March to contact Gary Samuels, who for the past two years has been in charge of planning transfer orientation.

“One of the common complaints I hear from transfer students is that they don’t connect with students right away,” said Samuels, Coordinator of Student Affairs and Community Standards.

Samuels and March came up with a solution to this problem by bringing in the Peer Advocates to guide transfer students around campus and also to answer any questions they might have.

“We thought it would be great to have Peer Advocates available to meet families as they arrive and give tours, so they can already have a student that has been here for at least a year to connect with as soon as they get to campus,” said Samuels.

Advocates took the new students to the Anderson Center to get their parking passes and to the IT office to get their identification cards before their first day of classes.

“Our role was to tell the new students about our organization and how we are here to help them and advocate for them,” said sophomore Speech-Language Pathology major Kelsey Rafferty.

The event was also a positive experience for the Peer Advocates. “I really enjoyed it. It was a great experience making the transfer students feel welcome at Misericordia,” said Rafferty.

Peer Advocates set several goals for their efforts, one of which was rated at the top of their list: being a friendly and welcoming group.

“It made me feel good to know that we as group were helping to ease the transition for students by making them more comfortable,” said Rafferty.

After Samuels and his team completed presentations for the new transfer students, the advocates finished the event by telling the group a little about themselves.

“In the beginning of the year we act as a welcoming committee. Then we are available for all students as an advocacy group as well as a support system throughout the rest of the year,” said Rafferty

Peer Advocates ended the orientation by showing the newcomers around campus and helping them find their class locations before the first day of the semester.

“I enjoyed showing the transfer students around. It was good to know that I was helping people feel more comfortable in a new place, and it was also great to meet new people,” said Rafferty.

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