Phone calls and success kits connect new students with supports

This is one in a series of stories highlighting projects supported by Brock’s Academic Initiatives Fund (AIF), which was established by the University in spring 2021. AIF projects will address key priorities outlined in Brock’s Institutional Strategic Plan and position the University to face the challenges of recovery from the pandemic. To read other stories in the AIF series, click here.

As exams near during an already busy time of year, outreach activities are underway to ensure new Brock students know help is within reach.

Through Brock’s Student Life team, volunteers from across the University have been connecting with new students by phone to inform them about available services and supports. Meanwhile, Student Life has also been busy compiling and distributing student success kits.

Tanya Bradley, Brock’s Manager of Student Engagement, said the initiatives, made possible by the University’s Academic Initiatives Fund, allowed the Brock community to support new students during a busy time in their academic journeys.

“Starting a new experience can be difficult and we want to be there for our students when they need us,” she said. “We hope these initiatives will connect new students to the services and supports they may need for their success and well-being. Ultimately, we hope our students feel cared about and supported as they enter exams and the winter break.”

For Kailene Jackson, Student Life and Success’ Orientation Co-ordinator, the chance to reach out was personal.

“It wasn’t too long ago that I was a first-year student, so I am all too familiar with how challenging it can be,” she said. “Between the stress of exams and assignments, adjusting to university life and the weather getting colder, this time of year can be overwhelming and isolating for students. It’s so amazing that in my new capacity as a professional staff member, I am able to show first-year students that Brock cares and is here for them.”

Associate Director of Experiential Education Sandy Howe was one of the volunteers who contributed to the 1,300 phone calls that were made to check in on new students and help them to access on-campus resources they may not have known about.

During the 1,300 phone calls, volunteers from 15 campus units asked new students about their experiences and helped to guide them to services and resources they may not have been aware of.

Sandy Howe, Brock’s Associate Director of Experiential Education and one of the volunteer callers, said the chance to take part in the campaign and share resources directly with students was an exciting opportunity.

“It was nice to hear how students are truly doing and connect them with resources that are meaningful at this time while also connecting them more with the campus itself,” she said. “They were so grateful for the calls, and it was such a joyful experience to help support them in the ways they needed.”

Along with the calls, the University’s Student Life team has also partnered with nine units to assemble and distribute 2,800 success kits to first-year students prior to their exams.

In the bags, students will find materials designed to help with their personal and academic lives, which vary from bag to bag and may include reusable water bottles, Lysol wipes, socks, notepads, keychains, as well as printed materials about supports across campus and motivational messages from alumni.

To assemble the kits, an additional team of staff and student volunteers have stepped up to do their part.

Kervelle Guiste, a second-year Master of Business Administration student and member of the Brock University Volunteer Association, said she wanted to help out as a way to give back.

“I know that new students can need some extra support,” she said. “This initiative can show them how much everyone at the University cares about them and I wanted to be a part of that.

Jackson said the positive response from so many partners from across campus has been encouraging.

“I am totally overwhelmed, in the best way possible, by how supportive the campus community and its respective student service areas have been of these initiatives. It is so incredible to see so many staff and departments across campus show up for students in these ways.”

The success kits will be distributed Wednesday, Dec. 1 through Friday, Dec. 3 in the Student Success Centre (TH 129) and residence dining halls, and will be given away on a first-come, first-served basis.

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