Baylor introduces Baylor Family Groups

September 2, 2020
To combat COVID-19 constraints and conditions, first-year and transfer students have been placed in newly created Baylor Family Groups. The program, coordinated by New Student Programs, Student Activities and Spiritual Life, designates upper-class student leaders to assist new students in building connection, finding belonging within the Baylor community, reflecting on chapel content and more.

“This program takes things that Baylor values — connection to peers, faculty/staff mentors and community — and packages it into small group form,” said Vincent Phillips, senior coordinator for Welcome Programs within New Student Programs. “Students are able to build genuine connection with a group of individuals that they live around. This program sets out to build upon the amazing resources that are already offered and bring them to the forefront.”

The family group meetings will take place weekly, alternating between a week with guided conversations with those in their group and more informal small gatherings to get to know one another. Student leaders communicate regularly with their family group to foster relationships, offer support and make referrals for any students facing challenges. Selected faculty and staff will serve as resources and mentors for the program, with each mentor serving about 10 student leaders.

“Baylor Family Groups give new students the opportunity to build lasting friendships with the students around them and find creative ways to engage within the Baylor community,” said Cerenity Austin, senior and Family Group student leader. “Students are paired with family group leaders who provide emotional, spiritual and educational support whenever they need it. Family groups are an integral part in continuing Baylor’s commitment to becoming a home away from home for new students.”

Most of the family groups are formed by residence halls, incorporating existing group and leader structures through Campus Living and Learning into the program curriculum. Student leaders report on student participation biweekly to ensure new students have a connection to a program, leader or staff member.

Baylor Family Groups intend to foster close friendships by sharing meals, engaging in discussions, getting to know Waco and more. Students who are taking online only courses will be placed in groups with other students studying remotely.

“Students leaders have a heart to transform what some may say is a weird first year into something much more. Faculty mentors have the chance to interact with students that they may not have had the chance to in their regular day to day,” Phillips said. “And for the BFG committee, we get to see the truth of Baylor shine on every student this fall. What a place. What a committed student body.”

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