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New program helps freshmen adjust

Aug. 31, 2004

By JESSICA YOUNGPETER, reporter

A handful of freshmen got a step ahead of their classmates this year when it came to meeting upperclassmen and finding a connection to Baylor University.

Twenty-six freshmen are a part of a new mentoring program called Connecting Undergraduate Baylor Students, or CUBS.

This new program, created by the Student Development Council, pairs incoming students with upperclassmen in hopes of quickly integrating them into the Baylor family so they feel more comfortable in the college setting.

"I liked the idea of someone older helping me through my freshman year and being there with encouraging words," Emily Griffin, a Germantown, Tenn., freshman, said.

Originally, the program would only cater to out-of-state students since many don't know anyone from their hometown attending Baylor.

Student Development Council members hoped that having a mentor would make the transition to another state a bit easier and that mentors could help share Waco and Texas heritage.

However, when interest from Texas residents was noticed, the program was extended to include any incoming student interested in forming a relationship with older peers.

Fourteen of the 26 students are from places like Chicago, South Dakota and even Sweden.

Griffin chose to be a part of the program so she could find encouragement, be looked after and also receive support from an upperclassman that had already gone through some of the situations she would be facing during her time at Baylor.

David Cook, a Dallas senior, is the student director of the program. He and graduate John Hill created the idea of CUBS while campaigning for the 2003 student body elections.

"We realized that so many freshmen could benefit from having a mentor to help them through their first year," Cook said. "It helps to have someone who has gone through it before."

Twenty-one mentors were selected last spring through an interview process.

"Since this is the first year, there was a lot of handpicking," Cook said. "We did a lot of interviews to make sure we got the best mentors."

Mentors are expected to contact the freshmen at least once a week to make sure everything is running smoothly.

Some upperclassmen chose to show students around campus before the start of classes so the campus did not seem too intimidating.

Others chose to introduce the newcomers to unique Waco restaurants and traditions. According to some of the mentors, whatever the activity may be, they seem to have one goal in mind -- getting students involved so they can have a rewarding college experience.

"The main reason I chose to get involved was because I've had a great experience at Baylor," Dallas Pena, a Levelland junior, said. "I want to have the same impact on other students as soon as they get here."