Waiting in line for arrival day registration Sunday, Alex Valdez ’19, of Ontario, Calif., and Enrique Nunez ’19, of San Antonio, Texas, said they became friends during this year’s First-Generation Initiative orientation.
“I decided to come here partly because of the beauty of the campus, and because of what I learned about the rigorous classes,” said Valdez, who added that his visit finalized that decision. “When I came for April Visit Days, everyone was totally welcoming.”
Nunez and Valdez are two of the 781 enrolled students in the bicentennial Class of 2019, which is the first to have the option of joining Colgate’s new residential commons, a living-and-learning community established to connect some of the university’s most talented professors with students’ out-of-class experience. Led by Professor Rebecca Shiner and University Chaplain Mark Shiner, the 200 commons participants live in Curtis Hall and Drake Hall, take first-semester seminars together, and will be connected to a Broad Street house for all four years.
“The residential commons is our way of living the liberal arts, where students live in a welcoming and vibrant community that offers a range of social, recreational, and intellectual opportunities,” said Vice President and Dean of the College Suzy Nelson. “It also offers a central gathering place that binds together the people who live in areas that surround it. I see this as less of a change, and more of Colgate just becoming better at being Colgate.”
Along with being the first to take part in the new residential commons, first-generation students in the Class of 2019 have a new support system specifically designed to help foster a smooth transition to college.
“The initiative provides a two-day pre-orientation for first-generation students to become acclimated to campus, while building relationships with their peer mentors and creating a growing sense of community within their cohort,” said Drea Finley ’13, assistant dean for administrative advising and director of the First Generation Initiative.
The new scholars program will provide continued support for first-generation students throughout the academic year in conjunction with the Office of Undergraduate Studies (OUS), the university’s long-standing scholars program for students who have overcome significant challenges on their path to Colgate. As sister programs, both OUS and the First Generation Initiative are dedicated to enhancing the academic and social experiences of their students.
Additional pre-orientation programs include Wilderness Adventure and international student orientation as well as preparation for participation in activities such as community outreach, Maroon-News, WRCU Radio, Raider Pep Band, Masque and Triangle student theater, and religious life.
Twins Iona ’19 and Mey McLean ’19, of Washington, D.C., said they looked at a lot of larger schools before changing their focus to finding a small liberal arts institution.
“We visited 22 schools before deciding on Colgate,” said Iona, who performs in a drum and bass duo with her sister called the McLean Twins. While both are undecided about a major, they said they are thrilled with the limitless possibilities ahead. “I don’t know what I want to do, but I’m excited to find out.”